Fans welcome decision to close roof (Australian Open diary)

January 29th, 2009 - 10:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Serena WilliamsMelbourne, Jan 29 (IANS) Tennis fans have welcomed the decision to close the centre-court roof on another scorching hot day at the Australian Open. The mercury rose beyond 40 degrees as Melbourne experienced its hottest block of days in a century, officials closed the roof at Rod Laver Arena before any play had started.

“It’s a wonderfully sensible decision,” said Sydney fan Jennifer Aaron. “I am pleased they’ve made that decision early rather than later because yesterday it was unfair.”

Officials came under fire Wednesday for leaving the roof open in heatwave conditions until after the first set of Serena Williams’s quarter-final, in which she recovered to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 5-7, 7-5, 6-1.

“The conditions on the court are far hotter than what it is in the stands, but the players are there for a couple of hours but the fans are sitting there all day long in the sun. And you can’t put up an umbrella, so how do you protect yourself?

“I could not even sit there Wednesday. I was absolutely frying, close to fainting,” Aaron said.

Fans inside held placards saying “thanks for closing the roof” while Melbourne Park’s Garden Square - traditionally packed with spectators - was like a ghost town.

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Dokic comeback spins money for Channel 7

Jelena Dokic’s comeback tale has reaped rich benefits for Channel 7.

A staggering average of 2.34 million saw her three-set loss to Dinara Safina in the quarter-final.

That beats last year’s NRL grand final and the Origin decider and adds to the enormous fillip the Open fortnight gives to Seven’s ratings.

“It’s a great platform for us, no question - it’s why we’ve put in lots of resources and as a result see lots of value,” Seven’s director of programming and production Tim Worner said.

“Live sport is the purest form of storytelling, it’s that simple. This is going to be one of the most-watched Australian Opens ever.

“Australians took Jelena to their hearts and reinstalled her as a little Aussie battler.”

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Serena eyeing 10th slam to join elite club

Serena Williams made a solid case for her 10th Grand Slam when she swept aside Russian Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-final.

Serena is a three time champion in the winning the title in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Ask her what will be like getting her 10th Grand Slam, Serena said: “It would be cool. Maybe I’ll get the special 10-plus bonus mail. Like I’m sure that people have 10-plus Grand Slams get special letters. I’ll be part of a really elite club.”

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