For the first time in US Open history, an Extreme Heat Policy was implemented for men’s matches as temperatures flirted with 100 degrees at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. While the WTA Tour has a well-defined heat policy in its rulebook – affording players the option of a 10-minute break between sets two and three of a split-sets match – the ATP’s official stance is more broad.
Just after 1 p.m., the USTA released an official statement announcing that the men would also be offered a 10-minute hiatus, between sets three and four.
In a brief press conference, Chris Widmaier, USTA Managing Director of Corporate Communications, explained the discretionary nature of the decision.
“I don’t believe that we will have a concrete, written policy, if you will, on the extreme heat for the men until after this US Open as we see what is happening,” he said. “We will be doing this on a case-by-case basis, so tomorrow we will be making that determination whether we will implement an extreme heat policy for the men for a second time.”
Novak Djokovic and Marton Fucsovics, in the second match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, were among the men to take advantage of the new policy.
“I want to thank the US Open for allowing us to have the 10-minute break, because we both needed it,” Djokovic said on court after his four-set victory. “But we were not allowed to talk to any of our team in the locker room.”
“We were naked next to each other in the ice baths after battling for three sets, and it was a magnificent feeling I must say,” laughed the Djoker.
While these extreme conditions can be particularly difficult for players, the USTA would also like to remind US Open fans to take precautions in the high heat and humidity predicted for the next few days in New York. Spectators are encouraged to bring sunscreen lotion into the NTC grounds, but only in tubes or plastic bottles. Aerosol cans are not permitted inside the gates of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The USTA also reminds fans that hyrdration is also vitally important in extreme heat, and fans are welcome to bring plastic bottles inside the grounds, although glass bottle and cans are prohibited.
Temperatures are expected to be in the 90s through Thursday of this week, but with the right safety measures, players and fans can beat the heat and enjoy all the sizzling action at the 2018 US Open.