While the Northern Hemisphere trembles in fear of another frigid Polar Vortex, a record heat wave in the land Down Under is making a mess out of one of the tennis world's biggest tournaments. Temperatures pushed over 40° Celsius (about 105° F) for four straight days in Melbourne this week, breaking a 100-year record and baking the athletes at the Australian Open.
Some of the best conditioned athletes in the world are melting under the scorching heat. It got so bad for Canadian Frank Dancevic that he said he hallucinated a cartoon Snoopy on court before he collapsed unconscious.
"I was dizzy from the middle of the first set and then I saw Snoopy and I thought, 'Wow Snoopy, that’s weird,'" Dancevic said to UPI. "I couldn’t keep my balance anymore and I leaned over the fence and when I woke up people were all around me." Dancevic was unconscious for about a minute before recovering and returning to the match.
Similarly, China's Jie Zheng needed to stop for a medical break in the middle of her second set against Australia's Casey Dellacqua. "She's pointed to her chest indicating she's struggling to breathe given the heat, she's breathing in hot air," The Guardian live blog of the match wrote.
Zheng would later explain the problems. "I felt so hot, my mind wasn’t working," she said, according to AFP. “I was looking at the ball, but I couldn’t focus on it. Then I couldn’t concentrate." After a short break, Zheng returned to finish the match, which she would lose in straight sets.
Even players who escaped the heat unscathed weren't pleased. "It was like an oven – when I open the oven and the potatoes are done," said American John Isner. Poland's Jerry Janowicz (below) had to strip down to cool off.
The New York Times detailed the lowlights from the heat: "At the Open in those four days, one player hallucinated and fainted, while another vomited; the soles of one player’s sneakers melted, as did the bottom of another player’s water bottle." More than a few have taken the opportunity to fry eggs on the scorching hot courts.
And Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina needed several towels to wipe off his sweat. The white towel around his neck, full of ice, was a common site on the courts.
Of course, the heat was just as acute for the thousands of fans watching, and 243 people were taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion during the heat wave. Those that made it through the weather had to get pretty creative.
But despite the incredible heat, the party was still rocking in the crowds. Especially for this DJ.