Heat becomes arch rival against US Open players

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Thanks to a 10-minute mid-match heat break, sixth seed Novak Djokovic survived the soaring temperatures amid suffocating humidity and held on to beat Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the U.S. Open first round on Tuesday.

Djokovic thanked organizers for allowing the break, but he admitted it was odd to find himself sitting in an ice bath next to Fucsovics with their match still incomplete.

"We had the two ice baths next to each other," Djokovic said. "We were naked in the ice baths. It was a magnificent feeling I must say."

Djokovic missed last year's US Open with a right elbow injury but he got a strong comeback in 2018, taking his 13th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. Beating Roger Federer in Cincinnati Masters made him a U.S. Open hot favorite again despite his sixth seeding.

In the women's singles, Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki played in the day, but the Dane shrugged off the heat beating 2011 champion Samantha Stosur 6-3, 6-2.

"I just tried to cool down between games, used ice," said Wozniacki.

However, for France's Alize Cornet the heat was a "nightmare". She sat courtside, telling doctors she felt ill.

Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, said the 10-minute heat break helped her in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 over Germany's Andrea Petkovic.

"I went to the bathroom and changed the outfit for the new one to be more fresh and just stayed in air conditioning for 10 minutes," she said.

With the women already taking advantage of a WTA recommended "heat break" prior to a third set, organizers decided Tuesday afternoon that the men would be afforded a similar 10-minute off court rest prior to a fourth set under an Extreme Heat Policy.

"The tournament referee, along with the medical team, will continue to monitor on-site conditions, to determine when the Extreme Heat Policy will no longer be in effect," said a statement.

US Open press chief Chris Widmaier said that this year is the first time the men's tournament has benefitted from a heat rule which will be reviewed on a day-to-day basis.

However, he ruled out closing the roofs on the showpiece Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong courts as that measure is for rain only.

Argentine veteran Mayer, 31, who was 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 2-1 down to Serbia's Laslo Djere when he quit, said, "I had heat stroke. Tennis is not for that."

"In the locker room I saw several people lying there, just like me, it's very hard. I could not do it anymore," Mayer added.

Italian qualifier Stefano Travaglia retired at 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (8/6), 3-0 down to Hubert Hurkacz of Poland and said his cramping was a result of the heat.

"It was 36, 37 degrees but on court it was more," said the 26-year-old who admitted "the first problem was the sun".

The U.S. national weather service says its heat advisory for New York City will remain in place until Wednesday night.

"The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible," said the body.

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