Sweltering heat at the US Open has got players and officials in a tizz at Flushing Meadows in New York.
The last tennis grand slamof the season is set for another hot day after players and fans wilted in temperatures that soared over 100 Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday.
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Five players retired due to heat on Tuesday as US Open organizers applied a heat rule, which is normally only in use on the women's Tour, to the men, giving male competitors a 10-minute break between the third and fourth sets.
Although Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic welcomed the break during his three-hour, four-set battle in suffocating humidity against Marton Fucsovics in the afternoon, it came with its very own set of challenges.
"The rule was that we couldn't talk to any of our team, and it was funny because my physio was sitting about three feet away from me and we were winking and sort of giving signals as to what I should do," Djokovic said in a court-side interview after beating the Hungarian, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.
"Then Marton and I were having an ice bath, next to each other -- we battled for two-and-a-half hours and then we were naked in the ice bath," he said. "It was a magnificent thing."
Djokovic, a two-time champion in New York, thanked tournament organizers for implementing its Extreme Heat Policy for the men for the first time in US Open history.
"We both needed it," he said, adding he had been "in survival mode" until the end of the third set.
France's Alize Cornet was given a code violation when she briefly took her shirt of on court after realizing she had put it on the wrong way during a heat rule break between the second and third set against Sweden's Johanna Larsson.
After slumping to a three-set defeat, during which she cried and told the on-court doctor she needed to vomit and felt pain in her head and bones, Cornet said the conditions had been a "nightmare."
A total of six players retired on Tuesday, according to the US Tennis Association (USTA), with five retirements related to the heat : Italian qualifier Stefano Travaglia, Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis, Argentina's Leonardo Mayer, Russia's Mikhail Youzhny and Serbia's Filip Krajinovic.
Sam Stosur, a former US Open winner from Australia, called conditions "just bloody hot."
Stosur, who lost to reigning Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets, sounded a warning about the conditions for the players.
"You do have to be careful," the Australian AFP news agency quoted Stosur as saying. "There were a couple of incidents yesterday as well and I think you've got to be sensible," she said.
"They were lucky they only had retirements," the BBC quoted French player Julien Benneteau as saying after he won his first round in four sets.
USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told reporters the tournament would be reviewing the use of the heat rule for the men with its medical team on a "case-by-case" basis.
"We may close the roof tonight in both buildings in an attempt to just bring down that ambient temperature overnight to some degree," Widmaier said.
However Australian Nick Kyrgios criticized the ad-hoc application of the heat rule.
"The heat can become dangerous at times and I don't think we had a heat rule and we made one up today, right," Kyrgios told reporters after beating Moldova's Radu Albot, 7-5 2-6 6-4 6-2. "That's just ridiculous.
"I think we should have a heat rule, it's not healthy to be out there getting dizzy and stuff and the poor ball kids out there. There should definitely be a heat rule looked at and put into place."
Temperatures are set to rise to as high as 93.2F (34 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday in New York, dropping to 88F in the evening as it will remain humid, according to Accuweather.
At noon, defending women's champion Sloane Stephens will open play at Arthur Ashe Stadium against Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, followed by Britain's Andy Murray against Spain's Fernando Verdasco.
Two-time champion Venus Williams will take on the hard-hitting Italian Camila Giorgi on Louis Armstrong Stadium in match that isn't scheduled to start until 1pm, when temperatures will be close to their highest.
The 38-year Williams, who battled for almost three hours in her first round against Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday, was diagnosed with the energy-sapping Sjogrens Syndrome in 2011.
Her sister, six-time winner Serena Williams, will play her second round against Germany's Carina Witthoeft in the evening on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Although the heat wave is expected come to an end from Thursday, temperatures are set to rise again next week, according to the National Weather Service.
Federer, Osaka breeze through
Not all players struggled with the heat.
Twenty-time grand slam winner Roger Federer barely broke a sweat during an emphatic 6-2 6-2 6-4 victory over the 117th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan in the evening at Arthur Ashe Stadium, extending his first-round record at the US Open to 18-0.
"It definitely helps having played in heat a lot," said the Swiss, who last won the US Open in 2008.
Naomi Osaka, the 20th-seed from Japan who trains in Florida, couldn't see what all the fuss was all about.
"With this heat, everyone was complaining about it," said Osaka, after dispatching Germany's Laura Siegemund, 6-3, 6-2.
"I thought it was pretty decent, like, Florida summers are way worse," said Osaka. "I'm really glad that I was training in Florida before this."
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