Thursday September 23, 2021

Djokovic urges schedule rethink as stars toil in heat

AFP
July 25, 2021

TOKYO: Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev called on organisers to delay the start times of Olympic tennis matches as players laboured in the sweltering Tokyo summer heat on the opening day of the tournament.

World number one Djokovic encountered little resistance from Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien in a 6-2, 6-2 first round win, but like many others found the playing conditions particularly demanding. Medvedev, a 6-4, 7-6 (10/8) winner over Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, suggested putting back matches until the evening, having started his opening round shortly after midday in blazing sunshine.

“I agree with him 100 per cent,” said Djokovic, who revealed he had asked the International Tennis Federation (ITF) about potentially changing the daily 11am start. “To be honest I don’t understand why they don’t start matches at say 3pm. I’ve heard that for tennis there’s some kind of curfew and they have to finish by midnight.

“If that’s the case, I just finished the last match (on centre court) and it’s not even 5pm. We still have like seven hours to play, they have the lights on all the courts. “They (could) make life much easier for all of us thanks to this. I just don’t understand why they don’t move it. I doubt they will change the decision but we’re hoping that they will.”

Medvedev admitted the conditions were “some of the worst” he had ever experienced. The Russian narrowly avoided going three sets after saving a set point in the second set tie-break before sealing victory over the dangerous Bublik.

“I think... the matches should maybe start at like 6pm because the heat actually gets much lighter,” said Medvedev, whose match began with temperatures hovering around 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).