Postcard from Palm Springs: the heat is on

Published by Matt Trollope

Mikhail Kukushkin feels the heat at Indian Wells; Getty Images
Winter in the Californian desert and snow-capped peaks on the horizon don’t necessarily mean cool temperatures at the BNP Paribas Open …

Where I’m from, in Melbourne, we’re used to scorching temperatures during tennis tournaments.

But that’s at the Australian Open, played in the middle of the Southern Hemisphere summer and where an Extreme Heat Policy is occasionally required.

It’s a lot stranger to encounter temperatures in what is supposed to be a winter climate.

Here at Indian Wells, it’s not technically spring yet. The change of season will arrive on 21 March. Until then, it’s snow-capped peaked surrounding a tournament where the mercury has tipped the mid 30s – Celcius.

The players have certainly felt it. Many have sweltered through practice sessions, like these shirtless ATP pros below …


(L-R) Lukas Rosol, Dan Evans, Dominic Thiem, Santiago Giraldo and Reilly Opelka practise at the BNP Paribas Open; Getty Images

Daria Gavrilova, meanwhile, said she was having no issues with the heat when I spoke to her about it on Friday.

“I was lucky, because when I was home in Australia it was super hot as well. I had to do running sessions in the middle of the heat,” she said. “We had the ice towels (here today) and everything like that, so I was feeling good.”

The fans have been feeling it as well.

For all its beauty, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is not blessed with a ton of shade. It’s predominantly stone pavers, steel bleachers and concrete here.

So wherever there’s a patch of shade, the crowds have found it. Especially if it includes a little greenery …

I spoke to some tournament volunteers, some of whom have worked here for almost 15 years.

Apparently, this kind of weather is not uncommon. Yet it’s been a while since they’ve had an Australian Open-esque scorcher here. On this day, 101 years ago, the temperature nudged 40 degrees in the area.

We’re coming close to that this year – the weather forecast predicts heat of 36 degrees Celcius over the weekend, just in time for the tournament’s top seeds to make their first appearance on the match court.

With the tennis heating up as the tournament progresses, it may soon catch up to the thermometer.

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