Aug/18

28

Talking about the US Open Heat

A tennis insider with close contact with the players said something to me the other day that still rings in my ears… he said, “The players are spoiled.”

They are paid absurd amounts to play tennis and win matches. Ever since they were teenagers and showed they could win tennis matches, their lives have been coddled and taken care of. Just keep playing and training and winning. The special ones make it to the Tour.

The insider said the life of the pro tennis player in the top 50 is not the real world. They get just about everything for free, free gifts, free meals, free lodging, free transport, free equipment, adoration, acclaim for being winners. The Australian Open even gives players in the main draw in singles and doubles FIVE complimentary string jobs PER match.

So on a frighteningly hot day like today, where it’s about 100 degree on court and extremely humid, sunny and meltingly toasty, it’s not a surprise that some players would pack it in and quit. and want to get back to the air conditioned luxury of the locker room and cafeteria. So far three players have quit their matches. Some are even calling for the tournament director to stop play and close the roofs of Ashe and Armstrong and just play two courts.

There’s an old saying in boxing made famous by Marvin Hagler about how great wealth can change a champion: “It’s hard to wake up at 5 am and go and run four miles when you’re sleeping in silk pajamas.”

Playing in this kind of heat is a normal part of summer tennis. There are always days like this and every player has had to deal with it. I know of two guys in Indian Wells who play four days a week when it’s over 100 degree. My friend has shown me the temp reading on his car several times this year – once it was 124, another time it was 118. My friend is 52 and he will play two hours in oven like conditions. His opponent is 70 and most of the time beats him. They are 4.5 players. They play best two out of three sets

So any US Open player who complains about this heat or quits may need to toughen up. Okay, some days nobody feels like playing and sometimes the body and spirit just don’t feel up to the task of a battle. And a day like this will make a lot of players throw in the towel.

More concern should be directed for the fans who have to sit out there all day – up to six or even eight hours – and watch the tennis while frying like an egg in a pan. These fans should be given free ice cold water and free courtesy meals. Tennis fans who buy tickets and support the US Open in such heated conditions deserve a reward for their loyalty and dedication to tennis.

The players who fight through and win today deserve special credit, so too do the ones who battle to the bitter. Even the ones that quit deserve respect. After running around playing tennis for two or three hours in this heat, nobody can tell how they are feeling.

It’s so dangerously hot that every summer there are football players who die in practice because of the heat and or lack of hydration. And every year there are fans and even ballkids who faint at the US Open due to the heat.

Sure, the players may be a little spoiled or very spoiled. But to play tennis in 100 degrees is just not normal.

Maybe the USTA needs to build a giant bubble over the entire site of the US Open and equip the venue with a central air system pegged at 74 degrees.

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7 comments

  • catherine · August 28, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Scoop – it must be dreadful for the spectators and other people who have no choice but to stand or sit around in the heat. And the players – well, some can endure heat better than others and it’s very dangerous to overheat the human body. Better to retire than die on the court.

  • catherine · August 28, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    And that black adidas outfit I saw some women wearing isn’t so good in the heat. Players should have an alternative white.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 28, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Catherine, the players get to go to chilly central air Ashe stadium locker room and cafe after matches. Media goes to cool media center and interview rooms. Fans must suffer and melt out there all day long. The only escape is the stores which get filled up when it’s hot and there are not many stores to escape too. I will try to get some stories from fans who I know who are braving this extreme heat today and add to this thread.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 28, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Up to five retirements now. Haven’t counted the bagels yet.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 28, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    I was beyond impressed with Djoker who looked cooked out there at 1-3 down in the third set. Somehow he turned the tide and won the last 10 games. That point in which he win the 3rd set and let out a yell let everyone know the match was over.

    Sock and Kyrgios would definitely quit in this heat. After all, there is A.C. and video games inside!

    I doubt any Slam champion was ever addicted to video games.

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 28, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    I read Rafa and Moya used to play tons of video games. Very good win for Djokovic, Fed and also Kyrgios and Tiafoe and deMinaur who meet next.

  • Duke Carnoustie · August 28, 2018 at 10:46 pm

    Scoop, those guys being Spanish I am sure they played the soccer video game. Zverev plays too. But there is a difference between doing it sometimes and putting it on social media like it is the most important thing in the world.

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