Tennis News Wire -
The Australian Open is preparing to help fans beat the heat prior to the start of the season's first Grand Slam next month after reports that weather during the fortnight could set some sizzling records.
Tournament officials have launched a charm offensive for local Melbourne punters by dispensing free ice- creams throughout the city this week at various metropolitan locations including Federation Square near the Melbourne Park tennis site and the State Library front lawn.
But Melbourne is not the only city gearing up for what weathermen say will be the biggest scorcher since 2009. Peters ice cream is sponsoring a pair of Beach Tennis Days in the run-up to the Hopman Cup later this month in Perth, with representatives giving away the goodies on two local Western Australia beaches.
So important is the weather for the Aussie Open that officials have released a detailed guess as to expected conditions during the event, which begins January 14.
Australian Open 2013 should be the warmest tournament since 2009, with a few days near or above, said tournament weatherman Bob Leighton. At this early stage, summer is forecast to be slightly drier than normal with the possibility of just a few days of rainfall during the two weeks.
"All-in-all, it's looking like good tennis weather.
The average daily maximum at Australian Open 2009 was 34 Celsius (93 f), nine degrees above normal. The coolest was in 1986, when the maximum temperature averaged just 22 C (71f), 3.5 degrees below normal.
The Open is the only Grand Slam which has an Extreme Heat Policy, under which the tournament referee may suspend the start of matches on outside courts, with matches in progress stopped at the end of the set in progress. The tournament boasts two showcase stadiums with moveable roofs - and a third on the way - with play at those venues continuing with the tops closed to beat the heat.