Novak Djokovic hits out at Australian Open organizers over heat safety

Novak Djokovic hit out at tournament organizers after temperatures reached 40 Celsius. (AP)
Updated 18 January 2018

Novak Djokovic hits out at Australian Open organizers over heat safety

LONDON: Novak Djokovic hit out at tournament organizers after he won his survival of the fittest battle with Gael Monfils to reach the third round.
The former world No. 1 saw off the Frenchman’s challenge 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win in 2 hours 45 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena. But while he was very happy with the win, he was angry at being made to play in temperatures that hovered around 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), prompting Djokovic to say a safety limit had been reached for the players.
“People might say at this level you have to be as a professional tennis player fit,” Djokovic said.
“It’s the beginning of the season. You work and train hard to be able to sustain these kind of conditions, to be tough.
“But I think there is a limit, and that is a level of tolerance between being fit and being, I think, in danger in terms of health. It was right at the limit.”
The extreme elements made it a desperate struggle just to finish the match with Monfils looking the worse for wear early before Djokovic had enough in the tank to win on his fourth match point in a gruelling eight-minute final game.
“It was brutal conditions and we both suffered, it was a big challenge for both of us,” Djokovic said.
“Gael is one of the best athletes in our sport but he was not at his best in the second and third sets. It was about just hanging in there and try to use every opportunity.”
He pleaded with tournament officials to step in next time the heat gets too much.
“There are certain days where you just have to, as a tournament supervisor, recognize that you might need to give players few extra hours until (the temperature) comes down,” he said.
“I understand there is a factor of tickets. If you don’t play matches, people will be unhappy.”
There were no retirements due to the heat on Day 4, however, and some players were even unfazed by the conditions.
One of those was Roger Federer.
The defending champion had the benefit of an evening start, when the temperatures had cooled. And he made the most of the better conditions brushing past Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-4, 7-6.
Federer, 36, broke serve once in each of the first two sets but had to recover from a break down in the third before sealing victory in the tie-break.
Asked if he had requested an evening match, Federer said: “It’s not my call, it’s [the tournament officials’] call.
“I wouldn’t have minded playing during the day because if you want to get to the top, you’ve got to thrive in all conditions.”
On the victory against Struff, the Swiss sensation added: “I knew about him going in. I’ve practiced with him, played singles and doubles against him too so you have the information you need.”

A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

Updated 20 March 2019

A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

  • Can the Whites and Green Falcons find the back of the net more often?
  • Both teams need to set the tone ahead of the important World Cup qualifiers.

LONDON: Ahead of Thursday’s friendly between the UAE and Saudi Arabia Arab News looks at the main priorities for both sides as they embark on their new eras after the Asian Cup and ahead of the all-important the World Cup qualifiers.


For the past 18 months both sides have struggled for goals. Under Alberto Zaccheroni the UAE scored just 10 goals in the past nine matches — five of those coming against lowly Kyrgyzstan and India — and likewise the Green Falcons have also struggled to find the back of the net. Heading toward the World Cup qualifiers, now is the time to find those scoring boots.


Both sides have technically gifted players, can keep the ball and at times trouble opposition defenses. But both have been too defensive, too safety-first and, at times, too dull. Football is supposed to be entertainment, and the friendlies ahead of the World Cup qualifiers might be no bad time to throw caution to the wind and see what the players can do in the final third.


As the modern cliche goes, a week is a long time in football. With all the sackings and player movements, it is not hard to see the kernel of truth in that overused saying. But, conversely, time can also move very fast in the “Beautiful Game.” It may be six months before the World Cup qualifiers begin, but it will be September before the coaches and players know it. Set the tone and tactics now and triumphs will be easier to come by then and, more importantly, further into the future.