TOKYO: Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev called on organizers to delay the start times of Olympic tennis matches as players labored 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 percent,” 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 center 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).
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. 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.”
Sun causes problems
Medvedev, a two-time Grand Slam finalist who will meet 160th-ranked Sumit Nagal of India in the second round, is fairly well acclimatized to the heat, spending his summers on the French Riviera after relocating from Russia. “Where I live in summer in Cannes can be really hot, I’m not going to lie, but you have to play. That’s the Olympics, you go for the medal. You’re not here to cry about heat, it was really tough for both of us,” said Medvedev.
Poland’s Iga Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, suffered with the heat and the glare of the sun as she opened the day’s program on the main court. “Not only the temperature was hard, but also the sun because on one side it was pretty hard to serve,” Swiatek said after a 6-2, 6-2 win over Mona Barthel. “But we had to adjust quickly and change our toss, so that was hard, but you know I would say the players who can adjust quicker are going to be the best ones here.” – AFP