Extreme Heat policy not needed, say players
The Australian Open's new Extreme Heat policy was welcomed by Andre Agassi on Wednesday -- but only as a measure to protect fans and not the players.
A modification to the rule this year means that the tournament can halt play when the temperature reaches 38 degrees Celcius, two degrees lower than last year's mark of 40.
Matches are suspended and only resume when the mercury has fallen.
Tournament referee Peter Bellenger can also order the roofs to be closed on the two show courts to allow matches to be played during sweltering conditions.
But defending champion Agassi said the players did not need this protection.
"It's tough conditions out there but I believe it is part of what we do. It's the same for both guys.
"If somebody got to play in the shade and somebody didn't, I would say we need to change something.
"But if you have to go out there and deal with it, then you do. To be honest, I'm more concerned about the fans than I would be the players because people come out to enjoy tennis and they are not prepared for that kind of heat.
"We spend our lives preparing for it."
Another former champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov agreed with Agassi. "I don't support it because we have been through these conditions many, many times," the 1999 winner said.
"I think it's the same for both players and I disagree that the umpire can step up and make that call based on the conditions.
"But I don't think I should be the one who says so," added the often outspoken Russian. "We all have to step up and decide together what is the best."
Twice champion Pete Sampras said: "With the elements down here in Australia it is a part of the challenge of winning here.
"Sometimes it is more conditioning than tennis that decides who wins but part of what we do is being in the best possible shape."