Getting hot under the collar, dealing with the heat in Australia. - UBITENNIS
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Getting hot under the collar, dealing with the heat in Australia.

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TENNIS HEAT IN AUSTRALIA – As the temperature rise Down Under Jonny Fraser (Owner of Science in Tennis, iTPA Master Tennis Performance Specialist, GPTCA Tennis Coach) and Mike James (LTA Performance Coach, GPTCA Tennis Coach) explain what the players do to cope with the heat.

 

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

With the growth of tennis and emerging economies across the world tennis has become a global event. The calendars of both ATP and WTA involve a number of tournaments in every continent. Outdoor events are scheduled based on seasonal weather conditions with players competing in warm weather. The hot and humid conditions allow schedules to be free flowing, whilst providing a more enjoyable experience for spectators. Furthermore fewer rain delays allow continuous TV coverage increasing the attractiveness for sponsors and commercial revenue.

Competing in warm temperatures has its own challenges for players. More than often players will prepare through effective acclimatisation, rest and recovery methods and appropriate training on court. However, last year the extreme temperatures surpassing 40°C at the Australian Open 2014 on consecutive days was particularly hard for players. The soaring ‘inhumane heat’ as one player put it led to heat stroke, players fainting on court and even Ivan Dodig ‘fearing he may die’ on court. Ball boy and girls time on court was reduced, water bottles melted and shoes softened under the blistering heat. Bergeron (2014) explains that competing in challenging conditions leads to an increase in thermal strain on the body which may affect decision making, perceived effort on court alongside physiological strain on the body increasing fatigue. This combined with substantial sweat loss leading to reduced body water and electrolytes can lead to a drop in performance or illness. Due to criticism from players about a lack of communication organisers recognised that a clearer heat policy was required. One of these policy changes was to take into consideration measurements of temperature s that exceed 40°C and humidity readings that are greater than 32.5°C. However what effects does the extreme heat have on a tennis players body and are there any particular methods players can employ to reduce this?

Kovacs and Baker (2014) consider ways in which to aid and maintain tennis performance in the heat. Players are recommended to have individual hydration strategies maintaining appropriate consumption of fluids, particularly drinks containing sodium to replenish any electrolytes lost. Indeed further hydration recommendations include to make sure players begin fully hydrated at the start of matches, whilst rehydrating when playing multiple times for example between practice sessions and match play (Bergeron, 2014). Ellenbecker and Stroia (2014) emphasise how the WTA and ATP place great importance on adequate hydration. They explain how at events players fluid levels are monitored pre and post match and during training. This may involve weighing and monitoring urine colours of players. It appears that effective hydration strategies are essential to help reduce the risk of heat exposure illness.

Other strategies players can utilise to prepare themselves and maintain performance in the heat are through acclimatisation and the use of cooling methods. Bergeron (2014) discusses the importance of progressive acclimatisation both with regards to the environment and intensity of training or competition. Acclimatisation to the heat usually requires 7-10 days. Physiological adaptations include a lower heart rate at a given temperature and intensity, earlier onset of sweating and enhanced maintenance of the bodies core temperature. Despite this it is highly unlikely players will have up to 10 days in one particular location prior to competing, making heat acclimatisation a challenge. However with many competitions played in warm weather this may not be as necessary as first considered.

Cooling methods are often employed by players. The use of shade is an obvious example. Also In hot humid temperatures we regularly see players with ice bags or towels around their necks particularly at the change of ends. Despite evidence being limited with greater research in tennis needed other studies tend to suggests improvements both physiologically and performance wise. Hunter, Hopkins and Casa (2006) demonstrated that cross country runners who wore an ice vest in the hour build up to their event had a considerably lower core temperature reducing thermal strain. Furthermore Webster et al. (2005) showed that individuals wearing an ice vest prior to undertaking a maximal aerobic test led not only to improved duration running but also reduced perception of thermal state. It can be speculated how cooling methods will benefit tennis players. These may include reduced fatigue, improved recovery between points, maintenance of speed and power on court whilst leading to more proficient decision making. However similar to acclimatisation the implementation of pre cooling methods may be a challenge to players with schedules of play and timing of matches continuously changing.

Begeron (2014) also considers to what extent players may look at modifying play to minimise thermal strain. This may be selecting a style of play which looks to end the point more quickly aiming to reduce time on court. Ultimately game styles can be adapted but not changed. Players such as Djokovic, Nadal, Williams and Sharapova are all court players. It is important that when moving behind the baseline players use height and width to create space. For any player competing in such hot and humid conditions such as the Australian Open game plans needs to be proactive rather than reactive. Federer for example during his first round win 6-4, 6-2, 75 against Lu was hitting and charging behind the return of serve when possible. He also used serve and volley at key times on both first and second serves whilst looking to strike very aggressively. This example has also been a development of Federer’s game over the last twelve months with coach Steffen Edberg but this has also been applied by several big names in the opening round.

Players that will be successful in reaching the later stage in 2015 will have had the least amount of match time on court with potentially friendlier weather conditions. Murray post first round victory alluded to the cooler temperatures of night matches stating ‘ when it’s cooler, you know, maybe doesn’t take as much away from you energy-wise’. Both tactics and science may well play a vital role in who takes the prestigious titles come the 31st of January and 1st of February.

References

Bergeron, M.F (2014). Hydration and thermal strain during tennis in the heat. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48, i12-i17.

Ellenbecker, T.S. and Stroia, K.A. (2014). Heat research guides current practices in tennis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48, i5-i6.

Hunter, I., Hopkins, J.T.and Casa, D.J. (2006). Warming up with an ice vest: core body temperature before and after cross country running. Journal of Athletic Training, 41(4), 371-374.

Kovacs, M.S. and Baker, L.B. (2014). Recovery interventions and strategies for improved tennis performance. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48, i18-i21.

Webster, J., et al. (2005). A light weight cooling vest enhances performance of athletes in the heat. Ergonomics, 48(7),821-837.

Jonny Fraser (Owner of Science in Tennis) has an MSc in Sport and Exercise Science and is a Master Tennis Performance Specialist with the International Tennis Performance Association (www.itpa-tennis.org).

Mike James (Owner Matchpoint Management) is a GPTCA Level B coach and Level 4 LTA Tennis coach. He coaches at the LTA centre at Loughborough University.

ATP

Rudolf Molleker knocks out two-time champion Leonardo Mayer in Hamburg

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German 18-year-old Next Gen player Rudolf Molleker knocked out 2014 and 2017 Hamburg champion Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 after 1 hour and 39 minutes at the Hamburg European Open.

 

Molleker beat Mayer in 2017 in the Hamburg qualifying round, but Mayer got a spot in the main draw as a lucky loser and went on to win the title.

Molleker fended off all three break points in two consecutive games of the first set, before saving two set points in the tie-break. He sealed the second set with a single break.

The German teenager saved two break points in the seventh game with two service games with two service winners and one more chance in the ninth game to set up a tie-break. Mayer took the lead twice at 6-5 and 8-7, but Molleker saved both chances with two winners and sealed the tie-break on the 18th point after a double fault from Mayer.

Molleker earned an early break at the start of the second set and held his service games in the next games before sealing the win with a service winner at 5-4 to secure his spot in the round of 16.

Marton Fucsovics cruised past Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-0 dropping just 16 points on serve. Fucsovics got an early break in the fourth game to clinch the opening set 6-3. The Hungarian player broke three times in a one-sided second set and sealed the win with a service winner.

Andrey Rublev, who lost in the second round at Wimbledon and Umag, edged this year’s Munich and Houston champion Christian Garin 6-4 7-6 (7-5) after 1 hour and 39 minutes to score his second win over the Chilean player this year. Rublev broke three times to seal the opening set 6-4. The Russian player got the break back at 4-5 in the second set to set up a tie-break, which he sealed 7-5.

Jeremy Chardy came back from losing the first set to beat Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-3 after 2 hours and 34 minutes. Paire fended off a set point at 4-5 in the opening set to clinch the tie-break 7-4. Paire got a late break in the second set, but Chardy won two games at 5-5 to force the match to the third set. Chardy went up a double break to seal the third set 6-3.

Martin Klizan converted all five break points to cruise past Daniel Altmaier 6-2 6-2.

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Alex De Minaur Learning Patience After Two Month Injury Lay-Off

Alex De Minaur is ready to be patient as he looks to build some momentum in Atlanta this week.

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Alex De Minaur (@TennisAustralia - Twitter)

Alex De Minaur is learning the art of patience after missing less than two months of action earlier this year. 

 

The Australian had a rough start to the 2019 as he was forced to fight off a groin injury despite winning the Sydney title in January.

Then he had a couple of months off before once again struggling on his return at Indian Wells where he lost in his opening round.

But these setbacks haven’t stopped the 20 year-old from being patient as he looks to make his mark in the US hard court swing,“I feel like I’m doing all the right things, putting myself out there,” De Minaur told atptour.com.

“If it doesn’t happen this week, next week or the week after, I’m going to keep doing the same things. I’m going to do all the right things, be mentally strong, physically strong and I’m playing good tennis, so I think it’s just a matter of time.”

After Indian Wells, De Minaur spent a few weeks in his home in Alicante, Spain as he looked to regain match sharpness.

It was a period that proved challenging for the talented Aussie as he loves to compete, “I’m not used to being at home for that long and, I mean, us tennis players, we need to go out there and compete, at least me,” De Minaur explained.

I’m a very competitive person, and it was tough for me. I had my outlets. I was playing golf a lot. But still, I needed to get back on court. 

“Obviously seeing people go ahead of you and guys are playing these tournaments and seeing the results they were doing and me not being able to actually even be able to be out there and competing, that was very tough.”

Despite losing five of his seven ATP tour matches since returning properly in Estoril, De Minaur is determined to get back to the level that saw him rise to world number 24.

The Next Gen Star thinks it’s a confidence thing and is not easy to regain after an injury, “[It’s] just confidence. Playing matches, playing the big points right,” he explained.

“It’s something that you take for granted when things are going well. But when you have to stop and try to get back into it, it’s tough. Now I’m just keen to go out there and compete and play some good tennis.”

De Minaur continues his comeback surge this week when he competes in Atlanta, where he will face Bradley Klahn or Marius Copil in his first match.

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Nicolas Jarry Aims To Follow In Family Footsteps After Reaching Bastad Final

Nicolas Jarry looks to join his grandfather in winning an ATP title as he reaches the Bastad final.

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Nicolas Jarry (@FOXSport_Chile - Twitter)

Nicolas Jarry will look to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps tomorrow when he takes on Juan Ignacio Londero in the Bastad final. 

 

The Chilean was in fine form today as he beat another Chilean in Federico Delbonis in the semi-finals today, 6-3 6-2 in 64 minutes.

It is Jarry’s third ATP final and his second of the season following his final in Geneva, where he wasted two championship points to lose to Alexander Zverev.

Should the 23 year-old be triumphant on Sunday, he will join his grandfather as an ATP titlist after Jaime Fillol Sr. won six tour titles and finished a high of number 14 in the rankings in 1974.

Next up for Jarry is Cordoba champion Juan Ignacio Londero, who cruised past 2016 Swedish Open champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets.

The 6-3 6-4 victory included the Argentinian winning 73% of his first service points as he dominated the Spaniard in the 1 hour and 21 minute win.

It will be the second final of the season for Londero, who has enjoyed thriving on the clay in 2019 which has helped him reach a career high ranking of 58 in the world in June.

A good sign for Londero, was that en route to winning his lone title in 2019 in Cordoba, he beat Jarry in their only previous ATP World Tour meeting.

Both men will look to cap off an excellent week tomorrow as the final is scheduled for 2pm local time.

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