Tennis Hall of Famer John McEnroe sent an emotional message to the USTA after Russian pro Daniil Medvedev’s warning that a player is going to die over the playing conditions and intense heat at this year’s U.S. Open.
McEnroe — a four-time U.S. Open champion, who is currently working as an analyst for ESPN at the grand slam — expressed his concern after seeing Medvedev and Andrey Rublev drenched in sweat in the 93-degree heat and stifling humidity during their quarterfinals match on Wednesday.
“These poor guys today … they looked like they’re going to fall over,” McEnroe said on the broadcast, according to Larry Brown Sports. “It’s not humane in a way.
“I’m sorry. Please, USTA, in the future, I think seriously we should close the roof.”
McEnroe added the U.S Open should be striving to showcase “the best tennis player, not a war of attrition.”
Medvedev, who was seen doubled over at one point, won in straight sets.
McEnroe made his plea to the USTA — the United States Tennis Association, which is the governing body of tennis — from a remote location as he tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
McEnroe’s brother, Patrick, also said the roof should be closed when the heat conditions are a concern during daytime matches.
The retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows was open for Wednesday’s matches, which marked the hottest day of the 2023 U.S. Open.
The roof has been closed for rainy conditions, however, not for excessive heat.
Medvedev looked exhausted during the quarterfinal match and reportedly was using his inhaler at times during side changeovers.
The 27-year-old was seen shirtless in between sets with a wet towel draped over his head.
Players were using ice wrapped in plastic bags or wrapped in towels to stay cool.
Medvedev said the conditions were “brutal,” but explained he doesn’t believe there is much that can be done.
“I’m not sure what can we do,” he said. “Because probably we cannot stop the tournament for four days — because it’s been, what, three, four days it’s been brutal like this? — Because then it basically ruins everything: the TV, even the tickets, everything. It ruins everything.”
Medvedev, who will play top seed Carlos Alcaraz in Friday’s semifinals, added he needed an ice bath and something to eat after leaving the court.