Sep 8, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Scorching heat wave pushes U.S. Open players to the brink

Novak Djokovic tries to stay cool with ice bags between games on Tuesday. Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Brutal temperatures and stifling humidity at this year's U.S. Open have pushed some of the world's best tennis players to the brink.

Why it matters: New York's late-summer heat wave can get dangerous fast when you're chasing serves above 130 mph for hours in the sun.

What's happening: High temperatures this week in New York have hovered in the 90s, with more than 50% humidity.

  • On the court at Arthur Ashe, the event's biggest stadium, players say conditions have been excruciating.
  • "One player [is] gonna die, and they're gonna see," Daniil Medvedev, the No. 3 men's player, said during a match on Wednesday.

Zoom in: Tournament organizers adopted a new rule this week to partially close Arthur Ashe Stadium's retractable roof in extreme heat to block the sun.

  • Officials are also worried about fans, who can sit in sun-blanketed seats for multiple matches at a time.

Between the lines: The average highs during the U.S. Open and the three other majors have gotten higher and more dangerous in recent decades, according to an AP analysis.

  • Researchers found that hot temperatures increase errors and reduce players' win probabilities in subsequent matches, Axios Generate co-author Ben Geman writes.

The other side: Many tennis players who train in Florida want to use the heat to their advantage.

  • "The hotter the better," says Coco Gauff, who plays in her first U.S. Open final tomorrow.

What's next: Temperatures are expected to cool slightly for the tournament's final matches this weekend.

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