Blogs & Opinion


Australian Open: Delay start times to combat heat, says Barry Cowan

Features - Barry Cowan Posted 16th January 2014 view comments

The heat at the Australian Open is nothing new but I think it is more of a factor now because the game is so physical.

Before the tournament was moved from grass to hard courts in 1988, at least 50 per cent of entrants were serve-volleyers but now, with most players baseliners, matches regularly go three or four hours long.

Frank Dancevic collapsed at the Australian Open, claiming he saw cartoon dog Snoopy on court

Frank Dancevic collapsed at the Australian Open, claiming he saw cartoon dog Snoopy on court

I think that is why we have seen players fainting and struggling with the soaring temperatures and it puts the organisers in a difficult position because it is hard to know where to draw the line.

It is over 40 degrees in Australia and that is very tough but playing in 35 degrees in New York, Washington or Asia, when there is also the humidity to contend with, can be absolutely brutal and players do that enough.

Lopez has to be prepared to look silly at the net at times because he is not going to beat Murray trading from the back.

Barry Cowan
Quotes of the week

You can play at night in Melbourne so I would advocate starting slightly later in the day to combat the heat - sadly something we will ever experience in Britain! - but I do feel that lower-ranked players will always suffer more than the top guys in this respect.

Match days are always more pressure-filled than training days and that is doubly true for the lesser names as they are unused to playing on the big stage in front of screaming fans.

Firepower

Andy Murray's display against Vincent Millot, meanwhile, was average but he won and he did it without dropping a set - although things got a little dicey in the third - so he will be very content with where he is at.

Murray takes on Feliciano Lopez next and while on a slow hard court I would back Andy 100 times out of 100, on a surface as quick as this the Spaniard has the firepower to cause a few problems.

Eighteen months ago when Andy won the US Open, he had real four-set dogfight with Lopez in the third round and if he is not fully focussed and playing his best tennis he can lose, which you couldn't say against Millot.

I have seen Lopez play some unbelievable attacking tennis and he needs to do that again if he is to have any chance of beating Murray and make the fourth round in Melbourne for only the second time.

Feliciano has to be prepared to get passed and understand he may be made to look silly at the net at times because that is his best bet; he is not going to beat Murray trading from the back.

However, Andy likes playing lefties - Rafa Nadal aside - because they put the ball into his phenomenal backhand return, as his 7-0 head-to-head record with Lopez will testify, so I am backing him to come through.

Fatigue

Maria Sharapova has been out for a while with a shoulder injury and, possibly more than any other player in either the men's and women's games, needs matches.

So it is by no means a disaster that she had an epic three-setter with Karin Knapp in round two that lasted almost three-and-a-half hours - but I think fatigue will catch up with her in this tournament.

Maria does not seem to have the ability to start off scratchily in an event and then click into gear, a trait Serena Willams has in droves, which makes me think she might not add a second Australian Open trophy to her cabinet this week.

However, Sharapova certainly looks a lot happier mentally than she did in 2013 and I think the injury lay-off has allowed her to recharge her batteries, while she will always be a threat because she is such a great fighter.

Maria has only won one major since 2008 - the 2012 French Open which gave her the career Grand Slam - but I don't think we can call that an underachievement because she has had to contend with a dominant Serena.

Perhaps Sharapova doesn't have the movement, the dexterity or the big first serve of the top girls, but she makes up for that in heart and if Williams was not so good she may have eight, rather than four, Grand Slam titles to her name.

Comments (1)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Joe Davies says...

Yes I agree with Barry, Murray should breeze to the quarters before he faces a real test. Roger will do well to get past Tsonga but seems to be improving match by match. Should be a cracking semi- final.

Posted 17:52 16th January 2014

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Add Comment*

Send us your views

Are you a Sky Sports subscriber?

*All fields required, your email address will be kept private

back to top

Other Experts:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

Clowney's no joke

US sports expert Alex Ferguson profiles Jadeveon Clowney, the biggest defensive pick of the draft....

Alex Ferguson

King James reigns

Alex Ferguson celebrates a wacky, smile-inducing year in US sport - and salutes Miami's LeBron James....

comments

Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....

comments

Alex Ferguson

A perfect union?

Alex Ferguson looks at the possible unionisation of college football and how he would handle the issue....

Alex Ferguson

Call of the century

Spacemen Portland pick Bowie over Jordan - Alex Ferguson ranks the biggest decisions in US Sport....

comments

Alex Ferguson

Independence aces

Alex Ferguson kicks off his Independence Day fun by picking his 20 best bits of American sport....

comments

Jamie Redknapp

Toffees come unstuck

Man Utd's men with a point to prove can take advantage of Everton's midweek blow, says Jamie Redknapp....

Paul Merson

Merson's predictions

Paul Merson says Liverpool WON'T beat Norwich - and Chelsea and Man City will close the gap....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....

comments

Jamie Carragher

Bruce almighty

Steve Bruce deserves a mention when this year's managerial awards are handed out, says Carra....

Dewi Morris

Heart and soul

Dewi Morris looks at a crucial weekend in the Championship as we head towards the play-offs....

Stuart Barnes

Ups and downs

Stuart Barnes says the drama of relegation must be kept in rugby, but the play-offs need changing....

Phil Clarke

To Hull and back

Phil Clarke looks at the mental damage done to Hull FC and Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup....

Bob Willis

Away for a while

Bob Willis thinks Jonathan Trott will be absent from England duty for some time following his latest setback....

Rob Lee

Pinky and perky

Rob Lee blogs on his vivid Masters Breakfast attire and the men that made waves at Augusta National....

Mark Petchey

Fillip for Ferrer

Mark Petchey marvels at David Ferrer's win over Rafael Nadal but downplays it's long-term significance....

Barry Cowan

Heavy burden

Great Britain's best Davis Cup since 1986 fails to mask their reliance on Andy Murray, says Barry Cowan....

Alex Hammond

Just Cause

Alex Hammond reveals her tips for the Irish Grand National and the other decent racing in Ireland this weeend....

Alex Hammond

Going the distance

Marathon entrant Alex Hammond previews the Newbury action and Scottish National meeting at Ayr....

Alex Hammond

Rocky's road

Alex Hammond explains why she is backing Rocky Creek and Lion Na Bearnai at the Grand National....

Johnny Nelson

The best of friends

It will be tough but Johnny Nelson expects mates Anthony Crolla and John Murray to serve up a classic....

Glenn McCrory

Manny happy returns

Manny Pacquiao is back to his best and could yet get it on with Floyd Mayweather, says Glenn McCrory....

Johnny Nelson

Delighted for DeGale

James DeGale's Matchroom switch is the perfect move to get him back in the mix, says Johnny Nelson....

View from America

Desperate deals?

Simon Veness reviews a crazy week in the NFL's free agent frenzy, as sides splash out over $1bn....

comments

Neal Foulds

Trump tip

Ronnie O'Sullivan is favourite for the Worlds - but Judd Trump could spring a shock, says Neal Foulds....

Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....

comments

Neal Foulds

Simply the best?

Five-time Masters champion Ronnie O'Sullivan may be the best snooker player ever, says Neal Foulds....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

The contenders

Kelvin Tatum runs through the teams and riders ahead of the 2014 Elite League Speedway season....

Kelvin Tatum

Kelvin's 2013 Review

Kelvin Tatum salutes Poole's hierarchy and Tai Woffinden in his round-up of the speedway season....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Rich re-Ward

Poole, and the dynamic Darcy Ward, will wrap up the Elite League title at Perry Barr, says Kelvin Tatum....

comments

Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......

comments

Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....

comments

Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....

comments

Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...

0 comments

Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....

2 comments

Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....

0 comments