US Open: Earl vexes players, officials vigilant

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US Open
New York, Sep 2: In their tough battle against each other to bag the crucial US Open title, the international tennis players at the Flushing Meadows are now being beaten down by the weather conditions as Hurricane Earl seems to roar closer.

The intense heat claimed its first victim when 10th- seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus collapsed a half-hour into her match against Argentina"s Gisela Dulko.

On the other hand, world number three and top seeded woman, Venus Williams said a steady breeze at Arthur Ashe Stadium helped keep her from getting overheated in a 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 victory against Canada"s Rebecca Marino, a media report said.

"When you first walk out there, it feels soupy. In my match the wind picked up a lot, so it probably helped," the American ace said.

With the temperatures soaring above 30 Celsius (over 90 Fahrenheit), tournament officials invoked a heat-relief, reported Bloomberg.

As per the extreme weather policy, women are allowed a 10-minute break between the second and third sets if the heat becomes too intense.

However, men aren"t permitted a similar break during their matches.

Ivan Ljubicic, who lost against 220th-ranked American Ryan Harrison, attributed his disappointing performance to the weather.

“The weather was my biggest enemy. I sweat a lot and I feel really bad. I mean, I can"t move. It gets to me really quickly," said the 15th seed from Croatia.

While Ljubicic favoured the heat-relief rule for men as well, 20th-seeded Sam Querrey, who claimed a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory against fellow American Bradley Klahn, opposed it.

Officials Vigilant

With forecasters unable to pinpoint where the storm is going to hit, the tournament organisers are  forced to keep an eye on the hurricane.

Any westward movement by Earl could mean trouble for New York, NY Daily News reported.

"We're keeping our eye on it very closely," United States Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier is quoted as saying

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