to oppress: Arthur Ashe roof turns heat up on USTA
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[September 07, 2018]
By Simon Jennings
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The heat-wave
engulfing New York during this year's U.S. Open has left players
gasping in distress and organizers faced with burning questions
about the suffocating conditions on the tournament's main showcourt.
Arthur Ashe Stadium was given a retractable roof, built at a cost of
about $150 million in 2016, which has now turned into a public
relations disaster for the United States Tennis Association (USTA)
on the tournament's 50th anniversary, with the game's top players
criticizing the conditions.
The problem is the roof and its underlying superstructure has
reduced air circulation, which has combined with the soaring heat
and humidity to create a perfect storm of discomfort.
"In addition to it being pretty hot temperature-wise and high
humidity, there's not much natural air circulation," USTA spokesman
Chris Widmaier told Reuters.
"The way that the system is built in Arthur Ashe Stadium, we really
can't operate our (air management) system unless the roof is closed
and that's just because of the engineering.
"We didn't envision needing it or using it except when the roof is
The players have made their feelings abundantly clear at what
appears to be a lack of foresight by the USTA.
"I personally have never sweated as much as I have here," sixth seed
Novak Djokovic said after winning his quarter-final against
Australian John Millman on Wednesday.
"I asked the chair umpire whether they are using some form of
ventilation or air conditioning... he said only what comes through
the hallway, (that) type of thing.
"Obviously it's fantastic to have the roof... (but with) so many
players struggling to breathe, especially on the center court...
there's no circulation at all, especially court level, that's
something to really think about, consider and address."
The uncomfortable truth facing the USTA is the lack of circulation
has made playing conditions inside Arthur Ashe more stifling than at
any of the other courts.
[to top of second column]
Novak Djokovic of Serbia presses a cold towel to his head in a
quarter-final match against John Millman of Australia on day ten of
the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King
National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY
"I do believe since the roof is on that there is no air circulation
in the stadium," second seed Roger Federer said after losing to
Millman on Arthur Ashe in the fourth round on Monday.
"That makes it a totally different U.S. Open ... You have soaking
wet pants, soaking wet everything."
With the biggest names playing almost all their games on the court,
the question is whether the likes of Federer, Serena Williams,
Djokovic and Rafa Nadal have been more disadvantaged than their
"Look that's a fair question," Widmaier said.
"Obviously all singles matches are being played in Arthur Ashe
Stadium right now so there isn't that type of imbalance. That being
said, if you said that on day three, it's a legitimate question.
"After every U.S. Open we look back and see where we were strong,
see where we can improve.
"Will there be another means of looking to see if you can create on
the court level... some way to promote air circulation on these very
still days? I think we'll discuss that as well."
On Wednesday, organizers decided to run the air management system
during Djokovic's match while the roof was open, hoping it would
provide some relief.
Judging by Djokovic's comments, the experiment failed.
"It feels like sauna," he said.
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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