Tennis

Like with all outdoor sports, tennis players – and match outcomes – can be impacted by the weather conditions, with Wimbledon, the US Open, and the French Open just some of the matches that bring about different types of weather.

Changing temperatures, rain, and wind each bring about their own set of unique challenges, which, if aren’t dealt with correctly, can lead to a negative impact on players’ performance, and increase their chances of injury.

Tennis players will adapt their strategies according to what the weather conditions are, to ensure they are the best that they can be on court.

Weather

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Heat and humidity

The US Open and Australian Open tend to bring the highest heats, with the New York and Melbourne locations boasting average temperatures of 29°C and 26°C respectively, in the months they’re played. While tennis in this country doesn’t often reach such temperatures, July 1st, 2015 saw the warmest day in Wimbledon history, with matches played in heat as high as 35°C.

According to research from Loughborough University, tennis players produce the heat equivalent of twenty 60W lightbulbs. This increases by a further 50% when effects of direct sunshine, radiation from the court surface, lack of airflow, and heat from spectators are all considered.

It’s easier for sweat to be evaporated in dry heat, as opposed to humid conditions. Too little water intake can leave players feeling light-headed, weak and nauseous, in addition to causing muscle cramps and headaches.

While the body slows down automatically when temperatures reach 40°C, elite athletes push past this stage, which can lead to heatstroke.

To combat heat related illness ahead of the 2020 Australian Open, the tournament brought in a new heat stress scale for umpires to use in extreme conditions. With summer temperatures exceeding 40°C at one stage, the policy was put into immediate action and all outdoor play was suspended completely until the readings shows a significant cooling.

For players that have matches in this kind of heat, they should pre-cool ahead of the game, by taking a cold shower or ice bath, and drinking lots of fluid. They should also eat cold food with high water content, avoid hot meals, and wear ice collars.

Rain

It’s rumoured that a completely dry Wimbledon occurs only once every 20 years, which is why the centre court’s retractable, weatherproof roof often comes in handy! In 2016, the tournament saw attendance figures drop to their lowest for nine years. The same year also became the first edition in twelve years that saw attendance fall below capacity for two days running. Both were down to drizzly conditions in South West London.

However, no Wimbledon has been wetter than the first one held in 1922, where the rain was near-continuous for two weeks, with the final matches being delayed by a week.

While tennis is playable in light rain, if the court is too wet, there can be a delay in matches. However, this depends on the type of court used. Grass courts only need a small amount of rain to make it dangerous, whereas hard courts can take a bit more water, it depends whether it’s sloped. Clay courts are the ideal choice, as they’re the only type that players can safely use in the rain.

When it rains, tennis balls can become water clogged, which causes them to feel a lot heavier. To maintain the proper standard of a match, only dry tennis balls should be used.

Players are advised not to run at full speed or move too quickly when it’s raining, to reduce the risk of injury. Losing their footing or making changes of direction when the floor is slippery can cause players to trip or fall.

Wind

Strong winds can be one of the hardest conditions for a tennis player to contend with, as there are several ways in which it can impact a game.

For example, high winds can throw off the toss on serves, which makes it harder to control, thereby reducing the chances of success of a serve.

When playing into the wind, shots require more power. With tennis players focusing on hitting the ball harder, it can reduce their accuracy. Whilst playing with the wind behind requires less power, the player must ensure they use more topspin if they want to retain control.

The most important things a tennis player can do when playing a match in the wind, is to ensure that their energy levels are high, and they are active on their feet. They also need to maintain their focus and carry out their strategy; windy conditions can bring about unexpected results.

The 2012 US Open saw strong winds, averaging at 25mph. Winner Andy Murray joked that he had an advantage by growing up in windy Scotland. While Novak Djokovic admitted he struggled with the wind much more, to be able to play effectively in varying weather conditions, you need to practice in all of them.

Freezing temperatures

It’s not surprising that of all the major tennis tournaments, Wimbledon is amongst the coolest. In fact, the 1999 Wimbledon was the coldest one ever, with temperatures dipping to below 5°C.

If playing tennis in cold temperatures, players need to spend extra time warming up their bodies, as it takes muscles longer to loosen. If they start the match while muscles are stiff, they run the risk of pulling or straining them.

Players should ensure they wear several thin layers, so as they warm up or cool down, they can remove or add a layer. During changeover, wearing a pair of gloves can help to maintain core body temperature.

Even though tennis players may not feel as thirsty as they would in the summer, it’s still equally as important for them to stay hydrated. They should drink water before they start a match and bring a bottle with them; leaving the bottle upside down to stop the contents from freezing.

Cold weather also affects the strings on the tennis racket and makes the ball bounce less. When combined, this means players must hit harder if they want to generate power and spin on shots.

Close

Heat and humidity

The US Open and Australian Open tend to bring the highest heats, with the New York and Melbourne locations boasting average temperatures of 29°C and 26°C respectively, in the months they’re played. While tennis in this country doesn’t often reach such temperatures, July 1st, 2015 saw the warmest day in Wimbledon history, with matches played in heat as high as 35°C.

According to research from Loughborough University, tennis players produce the heat equivalent of twenty 60W lightbulbs. This increases by a further 50% when effects of direct sunshine, radiation from the court surface, lack of airflow, and heat from spectators are all considered.

It’s easier for sweat to be evaporated in dry heat, as opposed to humid conditions. Too little water intake can leave players feeling light-headed, weak and nauseous, in addition to causing muscle cramps and headaches.

While the body slows down automatically when temperatures reach 40°C, elite athletes push past this stage, which can lead to heatstroke.

To combat heat related illness ahead of the 2020 Australian Open, the tournament brought in a new heat stress scale for umpires to use in extreme conditions. With summer temperatures exceeding 40°C at one stage, the policy was put into immediate action and all outdoor play was suspended completely until the readings shows a significant cooling.

For players that have matches in this kind of heat, they should pre-cool ahead of the game, by taking a cold shower or ice bath, and drinking lots of fluid. They should also eat cold food with high water content, avoid hot meals, and wear ice collars.

Close

Rain

It’s rumoured that a completely dry Wimbledon occurs only once every 20 years, which is why the centre court’s retractable, weatherproof roof often comes in handy! In 2016, the tournament saw attendance figures drop to their lowest for nine years. The same year also became the first edition in twelve years that saw attendance fall below capacity for two days running. Both were down to drizzly conditions in South West London.

However, no Wimbledon has been wetter than the first one held in 1922, where the rain was near-continuous for two weeks, with the final matches being delayed by a week.

While tennis is playable in light rain, if the court is too wet, there can be a delay in matches. However, this depends on the type of court used. Grass courts only need a small amount of rain to make it dangerous, whereas hard courts can take a bit more water, it depends whether it’s sloped. Clay courts are the ideal choice, as they’re the only type that players can safely use in the rain.

When it rains, tennis balls can become water clogged, which causes them to feel a lot heavier. To maintain the proper standard of a match, only dry tennis balls should be used.

Players are advised not to run at full speed or move too quickly when it’s raining, to reduce the risk of injury. Losing their footing or making changes of direction when the floor is slippery can cause players to trip or fall.

Close

Wind

Strong winds can be one of the hardest conditions for a tennis player to contend with, as there are several ways in which it can impact a game.

For example, high winds can throw off the toss on serves, which makes it harder to control, thereby reducing the chances of success of a serve.

When playing into the wind, shots require more power. With tennis players focusing on hitting the ball harder, it can reduce their accuracy. Whilst playing with the wind behind requires less power, the player must ensure they use more topspin if they want to retain control.

The most important things a tennis player can do when playing a match in the wind, is to ensure that their energy levels are high, and they are active on their feet. They also need to maintain their focus and carry out their strategy; windy conditions can bring about unexpected results.

The 2012 US Open saw strong winds, averaging at 25mph. Winner Andy Murray joked that he had an advantage by growing up in windy Scotland. While Novak Djokovic admitted he struggled with the wind much more, to be able to play effectively in varying weather conditions, you need to practice in all of them.

Close

Freezing temperatures

It’s not surprising that of all the major tennis tournaments, Wimbledon is amongst the coolest. In fact, the 1999 Wimbledon was the coldest one ever, with temperatures dipping to below 5°C.

If playing tennis in cold temperatures, players need to spend extra time warming up their bodies, as it takes muscles longer to loosen. If they start the match while muscles are stiff, they run the risk of pulling or straining them.

Players should ensure they wear several thin layers, so as they warm up or cool down, they can remove or add a layer. During changeover, wearing a pair of gloves can help to maintain core body temperature.

Even though tennis players may not feel as thirsty as they would in the summer, it’s still equally as important for them to stay hydrated. They should drink water before they start a match and bring a bottle with them; leaving the bottle upside down to stop the contents from freezing.

Cold weather also affects the strings on the tennis racket and makes the ball bounce less. When combined, this means players must hit harder if they want to generate power and spin on shots.