Sydney: With temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celsius in the last edition of the Australian Open, the tournament organisers have introduced a new 'heat policy' this time around to ensure players' do not suffer in the first Grand Slam of the year, starting January 19.
"We are in that time of the year when we have extreme heat. Last year we had four days of over 40 degrees Celsius temperature, first time it happened since 1906. We of course don't expect a repeat of that, but we now have a heat policy in place," Tournament Director of Australian Open, Craig Riley said today.
"If the air temperature hits 40 and the humidity reading is 32.5, the referee will call the heat policy and what's new about it this year is that all play will stop. Previously, play would continue till the end of the set. The roof will then close and play will resume," he added.
Riley also announced that the Grand Slam will see another retractable roof, which he claims is better and faster.
"This year we have added another stadium with a retractable roof as part of the 363 million dollars upgrade. Now we have three courts, which have retractable roofs. What is interesting is that the roof itself can close and open in less than 5 minutes and is the fastest retractable roof in the world," he said.
Also in a year of many firsts, the mega-event will also become the first Slam to be the host broadcaster and will provide a clean feed to all its partners, including SonySix in India.
"First Grand Slam and one of the first tennis event to become our own broadcasters. So we are going to be the host broadcasters, we are are basically a production house and we will provide a clean feed to all our partners. And now we will be able to broadcast every single match around 14 courts every single day," he said.