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Players wilt in sweltering Aust Open heat

Australian Open organisers have again decided against enacting the extreme heat policy as players battled through a second straight day of sweltering conditions at Melbourne Park.

The temperature peaked at 40C just after 2pm on Friday, with the situation made tougher for players by hot, gusting northerly winds.

Frenchwoman Alize Cornet became distressed early in the second set of her third-round encounter with Belgium’s Elise Mertens.

Cornet slumped to the court behind the baseline on Hisense Arena serving at 1-1 and was attended to by medical staff during an injury timeout after she lost the game.

Ice was applied to her neck, shoulders and legs as her blood pressure was taken after she hobbled to her chair.

She recovered to play out the match but was beaten 7-5 6-4.

The drama comes after French star Gael Monfils became distressed during his second-round loss to six-time champion Novak Djokovic on Thursday.

Monfils claimed he had put his health at risk by remaining on court and urged players not to feel ashamed to walk off court if they felt similarly affected.

The Australian Open’s extreme heat policy can be enacted by the tournament referee when one of two triggers are reached – when the ambient temperature reaches 40C or when the wet bulb index (a measure of heat and humidity) passes 32.5C.

Also on Friday, Croatian Petra Martic revealed she needed to take painkillers during her three-set win over Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum.

Martic prevailed 6-3 3-6 7-5 in her third-round match on Rod Laver Arena where court temperatures soared during the hottest part of the day.

“It was really ugly … I think we were lucky to play on Rod Laver because we had some shade behind so you could hide for a few seconds in between the points,” Martic said.

“I got some blisters and I took painkillers after the second set, because it really made it difficult for me to move. It’s really tough on your feet to play in these conditions.”

Roger Federer said the heat was part and parcel of the Australian Open and believes organisers are doing their best to put player welfare before profits.

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