For Caroline Wozniacki, it was like “drinking a margarita on a beach” but for tearful Alize Cornet it was a “nightmare” as temperatures nudged towards the 40-degree mark at the US Open on Tuesday.
Four of eight early men’s first round matches ended in retirements. Temperatures were expected to soar to 38 degrees (100 farenheit) by mid-afternoon, the effect made worse by suffocating humidity.
That may be short of the 41 degrees which remains New York’s record temperature recorded in 1936 but that was little comfort for Italian qualifier Stefano Travaglia who retired at 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (8/6), 3-0 down to Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.
“It was 36, 37 degrees but on court it was more,” said the 26-year-old who quit with cramps but admitted “the first problem was the sun”.
“To have 25 seconds between points in this weather is not possible.
“There was a lot of humidity, it was really tough. I hope that in my next tournament it will be less hot.”
French player Cornet described the conditions as a “nightmare” as she slumped to a three-set loss to Johanna Larsson of Sweden.
Cornet, 28, wept as she sat courtside, telling doctors that she was ready to vomit and felt pain in her head and bones.
Cornet had already been hit with a code violation for changing her shirt on the court after putting it on the wrong way round during the “heat rule” break allowed by the WTA after two sets when the temperature goes beyond 30.1 degrees.
In response to the conditions, tournament organisers have allowed the men to opt for a similar 10-minute off-court rest at two sets to one.
“The tournament referee, along with the medical team, will continue to monitor on-site conditions, to determine when the Extreme Heat Policy will no longer be in effect,” said a spokesman.
That came too late for Travaglia, Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer, Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania and Romania’s Marius Copil who all quit their first round matches.
Berankis’s retirement was due to the heat, said the referee’s office, while Copil had “an arm strain”.
Copil had been 5-1 up in the first set on 2014 champion Marin Cilic on the Grandstand when he quit in the third set.
“The conditions were really difficult and it’s tough on Marius. He really felt something,” said seventh seed Cilic.
Australian Open champion and second seed Wozniacki dreamed her heat troubles away as she defeated 2011 champion Samantha Stosur 6-3, 6-2 on a sweltering Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I just tried to cool down between games, used ice. I’m just thinking I’m on the beach, I have a margarita in hand, life is good,” she said.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was just happy to finish her 6-4, 6-1 win over Yanina Wickmayer before the afternoon began to really cook.
“I was pretty lucky to play first on today, definitely. I knew it’s going to be very hot, but I couldn’t imagine how horrible the heat was,” said the Czech.
Japan’s Naomi Osaka couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
“With this heat, everyone was complaining about it. So I thought it was pretty decent, like, Florida summers are way worse, I think,” she said after beating Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-3, 6-2.
The heat and humidity had already been an issue on Monday when Stan Wawrinka, Kevin Anderson and David Ferrer all needed medical time outs.
So did Canadian teenager Félix Auger-Aliassime who quit his match against compatriot Denis Shapovalov after a worrying increase in his heart rate.
“That wasn’t easy to see,” said Shapovalov. “It’s tough to keep pounding at it when he’s a brother to me.”
The United States national weather service says its heat advisory for New York City will remain in place until Wednesday night.
“The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible,” said the body.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Marisa Kennedy)