Don’t be late.
The USTA installed its new extreme heat policy for a second straight day Wednesday, and finally revealed its harsh penalty for taking too much advantage of the generous new rule.
With temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the USTA allowed a 10-minute locker-room break after certain sets. For the women, it’s after the second set of their best-of-three. For the men, it’s after the third set of their best-of-five.
According to a USTA official, the 10-minute break is ironclad — with a point deducted for every 25 seconds a player is late following an initial warning.
For instance, if the player is 25 seconds late, just a code violation is issued. If the player is another 25 seconds late beyond that, at the 10:50 mark, a one-point penalty is assessed. Then a second-point penalty for another 25 seconds — at the 11:15 mark. And so on.
So far, nobody has violated the 10-minute rule, though it’s unclear exactly when the umpire starts the clock.
Ironically, the Greek Freak, 15th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, lost in the second round in four sets to Danill Medvedev and mistakenly didn’t take the 10-minute off-court break. He noticed his opponent had left the court and it was too late to follow suit.
“I had so many things I had to do so I actually forgot I had [a break],’’ Tsitsipas said. “After a couple of minutes I realized he was not on the court. It was only six minutes more left. I decided to stay and think, make a plan of my tactics on that side.’’
It didn’t work but at least he wasn’t late.
Venus Williams, who suffers from Sjogrens syndrome — an immune disorder that causes dry eyes and dry mouth — looked absolutely exhausted in the heat but still won in straight sets over Italy’s Camila Giorgi, 6-4, 7-5 in nearly two hours. She plowed on despite laboring at times, and it likely sets up the anticipated third-round meeting against sister Serena Williams, who played on the night card.
“It’s an interesting draw — I could’ve played two Grand Slam champions before the semifinals,’’ Venus said, referring to Serena and ousted Simona Halep. “Obviously, it’s early in the tournament, so both of us are going to be looking forward to continuing to play better. It’s definitely a tough draw. So hopefully I’ll see her Friday.”
Venus shut down any Serena follow-ups.
“You’re beating it up now,’’ she said.
Andy Murray hit a backhand service return into the net at Arthur Ashe Stadium and his Open was over as dusk settled. The unseeded Murray, rehabbing from hip surgery, predicted he wouldn’t know how he’d feel after a four-set first-round win.
And the answer was not good enough, as crafty veteran Fernando Verdasco took him out in a 3-hour, 23-minute, four-setter 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 that delayed the night session by nearly an hour.
Verdasco, ranked 31st, hadn’t beaten Murray in a decade, but this also is not the same Murray, who’s missed much of the past 14 months after hip surgeries. Murray provided great theater, posting four break points as Verdasco looked to serve out the match. Verdasco posted 52 winners to Murray’s 35. Murray, a former Open champion, missed last year’s tournament because of his hip.
On the comeback trail, Victoria Azarenka moved to a third-round showdown versus Sloane Stephens in scoring a straight-set, 6-2, 6-2 victory over 25th-seed Daria Gavrilova. Hence, no heat policy kicked in for a 10-minute break. But if she had one, Azarenka said she would not have opted for a Novak Djokovic-like ice bath.
“Everyone is a fan of the ice bath,” Azarenka said. “I hate it. It’s horrible, like my toes absolutely hate it and starts cramping.’’
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