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Tennis

Tokyo 2020: Novak Djokovic demands Olympic bosses change tennis schedule after opening win in 91F furnace

NOVAK DJOKOVIC demanded Olympic bosses change the  tennis schedule to avoid the Tokyo furnace.

Action started yesterday at 11am local time in a baking-hot Ariake Tennis Park — with temperatures topping 91F.

World No1 Novak Djokovic is baffled why organisers made players suffer in the heat as he Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 in gruelling conditions
The tennis courts virtually turned into Olympics rings of fire, with Novak Djokovic urging Tokyo chiefs to bring in later starts

World No 1 Djokovic eased to a 6-2 6-2 victory over Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien as he continued his quest for the Golden Slam.

And the sweaty 34-year-old Serb called on organisers to stop forcing stars to play at lunchtime.

Djokovic, who faces German Jan-Lennard Struff in the second round, said: “I don’t understand why they don’t start matches at 3pm.

“I heard for tennis there’s some kind of curfew for them to finish by midnight.

“If that’s the case, I just finished the last match.

“It’s not even 5pm. We still have seven hours to play.

“They have the lights on all the courts, they’re going to make life much easier for all of us players.

“I just don’t understand why they don’t move it.

“I’m still waiting to meet the player that likes this kind of weather. Playing in extreme heat and humidity that is 90 per cent or God knows how much, it’s very challenging.

“We expected that the conditions were going to be very tough but before you come here and experience that you don’t really know how difficult it is.

“It was tough, and probably tougher for the earlier matches.”

In response, the International Tennis Federation claimed its ‘extreme weather policy’ was implemented during the day.

This allows a ten-minute break between the second and third set if agreed by both players.

Play can be suspended if conditions are deemed dangerous and on Centre Court there is a retractable roof.

An ITF spokesperson said: “The decision to retain 11am was made based on data, a nine-day event and to accommodate factors such as local authority restrictions due to Covid and the unpredictability of the weather.”

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Earlier in the day, Andy Murray and Joe Salisbury won their first doubles match.

The Brits knocked out No 2 seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-3 6-2 and play German duo Kevin Krawitez and Tim Putz in the second round.

Murray, 34, said: “We have the potential to be a really good team and this result showed that.

“Doubles is always tricky because the matches can come down to a few points.

“If we keep the same sort of attitude and everything, prepare diligently, I think we’ve got a chance of doing well. But it’s not easy.”

On Friday night, Japan’s world No 2 Naomi Osaka  lit the Olympic cauldron  at the Opening Ceremony.

It was a moment watched by billions around the world on TV.

But Muzza added: “I didn’t see that part of it, we were in bed.

HEATHER IN TEARS

“It’s great for tennis that she is the face of the Games here and, hopefully, she can do well in front of — well it’s not in front of a crowd, really — but on home soil.”

Crushed Heather Watson broke down in tears in the media zone after losing 7-6 6-3 to German Anna-Lena Friedsam in the first round.

The British No 2 has not gone beyond the second round at a Games and this might have been her final shot.

Sobbing Watson, 29, said: “It definitely wasn’t my best tennis but I gave my best with what I had.


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“Too many unforced errors. My game would come and go in waves.

“Just really disappointed with the outcome.”

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski saved a match point as they beat Argie pair Andres Molteni and Horacio Zeballos 6-7 6-4 13-11 in the men’s doubles.

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