Driven by the heat and humidity reigning over Tokyo at the hottest hours of the day, the players engaged in the singles draws had been asking for several days for the matches to start later.
This Wednesday, they raised their voices again, relying on the heat stroke suffered by Paula Badosa, the Spanish semi-finalist at Roland Garros, 23, forced to leave the court on a wheelchair, his head bowed and covered with a towel after only one set against Czech Marketa Vondrousova.
🇪🇸 🤕 Sad end of the tournament for @paulabadosa
Crushed by the heat, the Spaniard left the court in a wheelchair # Tokyo2020 #Olympic Games pic.twitter.com/6hlFSmjvUY
- Eurosport France (@Eurosport_FR) July 28, 2021
Fortunately, at least for the remaining competitors, they were heard by the authorities.
As of Thursday, the matches will start at 3 p.m. instead of 11 a.m. so far, by decision of the International Tennis Federation.
“In the interest of the health and well-being of the players, and after extensive consultation, the ITF has announced a time change due to the increasing heat and humidity in Tokyo.
The matches of the Olympic tournament will start at 3:00 pm from Thursday July 29, ”announced the ITF in a press release.
The decision was taken in agreement with the IOC, the organizing committee and the Olympic operators, as well as with players, referees and medical experts ”, specifies the International Federation.
“From 4 p.m. it's a completely different tournament,” said Spanish player Anabel Medina.
The sun is rising so early that the hottest hours are precisely 11 a.m., when the program has only just begun.
After 4 p.m. the temperatures drop and there is usually a little more air.
"It is not necessary to play in 37 degrees," said her compatriot Garbiñe Muguruza, the 9th world title winner at Roland Garros in 2016.
Some of the finest racquets on the men's circuit had also made explicit outings about playing conditions in Tokyo. “I can finish the game, but I can die. If I die, who will take responsibility for it? “, Ironically launched to the referee the Russian Daniil Medvedev, during his round of 16 finally won against the Italian Fabio Fognini on Wednesday. Staggering at times under 40 degrees, the Russian world No. 2 has requested and obtained a medical time out.
"I do not know how much he is doing but the feeling is at 40, complained for his part the Argentinian Diego Schwartzman, eliminated in 8th by the Russian Karen Khachanov. It's crazy that they send us to play at noon in over 40 degrees. That three people with the "air conditioning" decide that we have to play like that, it's crazy. They are seated in their armchairs and then they come when the matches end with their sunglasses on… ”The Argentinian, 13th in the world, will keep a bitter memory of his end of the Olympic career:“ It looked like The Walking Dead ”.
Rising value in world tennis, the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 34th in the world, also testified to difficult conditions after his elimination against Novak Djokovice in 8th on Wednesday. “For us there was shade but it was incredible humidity. From the third game, we were already soaked and that influences our game. "