"Survival of the fittest" is proving to be a phrase that has hardly seemed more apropos in the realm of tennis.
Dry heat has become a second foe for Australian Open players to overcome. Melbourne is seeing boiling temperatures, and for the first time since 2009, the tournament's "extreme heat" policy, designed to suspend play, was implemented. For one, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki had this:
Caroline Wozniacki on the Melbourne heat: "I put a bottle down on the court and the plastic started melting a little bit" #AustralianOpen— tennishead (@tennishead) January 14, 2014
Other players have fought visibly and mightily to maintain their dignity and simply finish their contests. They have ranged from the United States' Varvara Lepchenko (who took the first set of her match against Simona Halep and then won just one more game) to Frank Dancevic of Canada, who all but collapsed in the midst of his match against Benoit Paire.
Here's a look at Dancevic sitting down, to put it kindly, in the midst of his match with Paire. The Canadian didn't even seem aware of what he was doing, which he later confirmed, saying that he lost track of his surroundings and "woke up" surrounded by helpers. Elsewhere, Peng Shuai fell ill and vomited on court during her three-set loss to Kurumi Nara of Japan. Like Dancevic, Peng plainly sat down, oblivious to or certainly uncaring about the strikingly vulnerable-looking position assumed.
Andy Murray went on record as saying that all it would take is one sorrowful incident of a player truly suffering physically related to the heat. The final word we'll allow for now comes from ESPN's broadcasting crew, in a tweet of all things to its nearly 150,000 followers:
What do you think should be done about the extreme playing conditions Down Under?
Got a thought, a tip, or a point to make? Hit me on Twitter @jonscott9.