Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev have both called on Games officials to amend the tennis scheduling after enduring intense Tokyo heat in their first-round matches.
As temperatures reached 33°C around midday, the two top-ranked players in the world both cited the stifling conditions in their arguments that matches should be moved to cooler evening times.
Medvedev overcame Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-4 7-6 but told reporters that it was a ‘joke’ to force athletes to play in such heat.
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During one changeover the Russian was seen taking off his shoes and shirt before throwing an ice-cold towel over his head.
“I don’t think they are going to change anything in the middle of the tournament but that’s what can be done,” the world number two said.
“I think the fact that we have only one minute between the changeovers is a joke… It should be 1:30 like it is in other tournaments.
“But you have to play. That’s the Olympics, you go for the medal. You are not here to cry about the heat.”
Djokovic, looking to make history with a ‘Golden Slam’, echoed Medvedev’s sentiments after his straightforward victory over Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien.
Winning 6-2 6-2 in just over an hour, the Serbian told media: “I don’t understand why they don’t start matches at, say, 3pm. We still have seven hours to play. They have lights on all the courts.
“You feel you have weights on your shoulders because there's so much heat and humidity and stagnated air.
You don't feel yourself, you feel slow with your legs. It's not the first time we get to experience tough conditions. I spoke to a couple of guys in the locker room and all of them said this is the toughest that they have experienced day to day.
“I don't really get why ITF [the International Tennis Federation] doesn't want to move the matches.
Comments made by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova made it a trifecta of disgruntled stars, as she too struggled through the heat on route to victory.
Despite comfortably beating Italy’s Sar Errani 6-0 6-1, the Russian suffered the most visible effects of the Tokyo heat during a medical timeout when she struggled with a tube blowing cold air next to her seat.
“It's not easy to find the right position because it's just on the bench and somebody has to hold it so the air is blowing on you,” she told reporters.
On her experience on court as a whole, Pavlyuchenkova said: “You feel constantly dehydrated…there’s no circulation in the air.”
Elsewhere in the tennis events, Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury secured passage to the second round of the men’s doubles after beating French pair Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 6-2.
It was heartbreak for Team GB in the women singles however, as Heather Watson crashed out in her opening match with Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam.
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