The brutal heat in Tokyo continued to play havoc as Kazakshtan’s Yulia Putintseva retired from her first round at the Tokyo Olympics.
Temperatures have been well over 30 degree Celsius in the Japanese capital and tennis players seem to be struggling with the conditions.
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Putintseva was trailing 6-7, 3-1 against Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska when she decided to withdraw. Her compatriot Zarina Diyas was the first player to concede her match at the Tokyo Olympics.
Diyas was unable to even finish a match and retired while trailing French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 2-5 on Saturday.
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The top two players in the world, in the men’s field, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev had also slammed the conditions on the opening day.
“I don’t think they’re going to change it in the middle of the tournament, but that’s what can be done and the fact we have only one minute between changeovers is a joke,” Medvedev said.
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“I think if you ask 200 tennis players here, I think 195 will say one minute is a joke and it should be 1:30 like it is in Asian tournaments.”
French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also struggled during her opening match against Italy’s Sara Errani. She had to take a medical timeout as she was dizzy. The Russian though did go on to win the match.
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On Saturday, ITF’s extreme heat policy also came into play.
The policy allows a 10-minute break between the second and third set if agreed by both players, while play can be suspended if conditions are deemed dangerous.
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“To be honest I don’t understand why they don’t start matches at say 3 pm. I heard for tennis there’s some kind of curfew for them to finish by midnight,” Djokovic said.
“If that’s the case I just finished the last match. It’s not even 5pm.
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“We still have like seven hours to play. They have the lights on all the courts, they’re going to make life much easier for all of us players. I just don’t understand why they don’t move it, I sincerely don’t understand.”
Due to the pandemic, players were not allowed to come to Tokyo in advance and acclimatise to the conditions. Athletes were allowed to enter Tokyo only five days before the start of their event.