Day one of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and things are hotting up – not least the weather.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic described the humidity as “brutal” after beating Bolivian Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 in the men’s singles first round, while Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev resorted to using a mobile air conditioner to keep himself cool.
Medvedev beat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-4 7-6 at the Ariake Tennis Park on Saturday, but said conditions were “some of the worst (heat) I’ve ever had.”
CNN’s weather team said temperatures on Saturday climbed to nearly 34°C (93°F) across the greater Tokyo region, with “oppressive” humidity levels above 80%.
“Very tough,” Djokovic said of the conditions. “Today, from also speaking to the other players, it was the hottest day so far.
“Because it’s very hot and also very humid, so the hard courts absorb the heat, and it stays trapped in there. Not much wind, not much breeze.
“Maybe other days there was a bit more wind, which helped refresh and cool down, but not much today, so it was challenging definitely, but I’m pleased to overcome the first hurdle.”
Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance/Getty Images
Daniil Medvedev cools down during the break by using a mobile air conditioner and a towel with ice cubes at the Ariake Tennis Park on Saturday.
Novak Djokovic wipes sweat from his brow during his match against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien.
After recently claimed his 20th grand slam title with victory at Wimbledon, Djokovic is aiming to become the first man in history to achieve the “Golden Slam,” winning all four grand slams and Olympic gold in the same year.
World No. 2 Medvedev suggested matches be scheduled for later in the day to allow players to compete in cooler conditions.
“I agree with him 100%,” Djokovic said. “I’ve heard for tennis there is some kind of curfew they have to finish at midnight, but if that’s the case, I’ve just finished the last match and it’s not even 5 p.m.
“They have lights on all the courts, they’re going to make life much easier for all of us tennis players, I just don’t understand why they don’t move it.
“It’s actually for the TV broadcasters even better, because the later you play, the better it is for the United States and the time zones in Europe.
“I don’t know, maybe ITF (International Tennis Federation) can give you a better answer to why they chose to be played in the middle of the day. I doubt they will change the decision, but we’re hoping that they will.”
Medvedev was also unhappy about the time allocated between changeovers.
“The fact that we have only one minute … is a joke. If you ask, let’s say 200 tennis players that are here, I think 195 will tell you that one minute is a joke. It should be 1:30.”
Not that all the tennis players were complaining about the steamy conditions.
“It’s great to play in these conditions,” Greece’s Maria Sakkari said after beating Estonian Anett Kontaveit 7-5 6-2. “I grew up playing in the heat. Maybe not that humid, but heat is the way we grew up playing in Greece and I actually embrace that.”
Tokyo 2020 organizers and the ITF did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment as to whether it would move tennis matches to later in the day.
Richard Carapaz of Ecuador celebrates winning the men’s cycling road race at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
If Djokovic and Medvedev had it tough in the heat and humidity on Saturday, spare a thought for the cyclists in the men’s Olympic road race who were in the saddle for over six hours.
Canadian cyclist Michael Woods described the heat as “exceptionally significant” during the 234-kilometer race won by Richard Carapaz, who is only the second Ecuadorean to win a gold at a Summer Games.
“With the heat and everything, it was one of the toughest days I think I’ve had on a bike,” added Australian cyclist Richie Porte.