Early, late starts to thwart cup heat

EARLY starts and late finishes will come into play if the heat becomes too much for competitors at this year’s Margaret Court Cup.

Temperatures of more than 36 degrees have been forecast from today until Tuesday, including 42, 40 and 41 on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.

Under Tennis Australia’s extreme heat policy, no matches can be played if the outside temperature is 35 or higher.

However tournament director Phil Shanahan said the policy was designed for Australia’s hard courts which reflect the sun more than grass.

“Hopefully, we get a bit of a breeze off the Murray,” Shanahan said.

“We did it about three years ago where there was a string of days over 40 degrees.

“We started early — about 8am — and went until noon and then we came back at 6pm.”

A near-record of 360 players will today take to the Albury Grasscourts for the six-day tournament.

Players from more than 10 countries will use today’s team event to get used to the grass surface.

The warm-up event was brought in to give players not used to grass a chance to feel comfortable before the cup started in earnest the following day.

Last year’s champion, Jade Culph, is back to defend his title while fellow local, Mark Shanahan, has entered after spending much of last year coaching Australian No. 2 Matt Ebden overseas.

Phil Shanahan said the court surface had made a super recovery after it was scarified a fortnight ago to aerate the roots.

“They’re coming back beautifully,” he said.

“The man who did it, Shayne Reid, is a former Wimbledon curator so he knows what he’s doing.

“Wodonga courts are in exceptional condition as well for next week’s Victorian Junior Grass Court Championships.”

Former Australian woman French Open and Australian Open runner-up Helen Gourlay will open the Margaret Court Cup this morning.

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