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'One player is gonna die': Star sounds dire warning as the U.S. Open heats up

Daniil Medvedev cools down against Andrey Rublev of Russia during their men's singles quarterfinal match.
Sarah Stier
Getty Images
Daniil Medvedev cools down against Andrey Rublev of Russia during their men's singles quarterfinal match.

Players in one of tennis' biggest events are facing scorching September temperatures.

Who are we talking about? The dozens of athletes competing in the U.S. Open in New York City, who are suffering through muggy temps that are cracking the 90s.

  • It's a problem that is exacerbated with the impacts of climate change. One recent analysis from the Associated Press found that the average temperatures during the U.S. Open and other major tennis tournaments have steadily increased over the past decades.
  • At one point during Wednesday's quarterfinal between Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Medvedev turned to the camera and said: "One player is gonna die. And they're gonna see."
  • The world no. 3 followed up after the match, saying: "It was brutal ... At the end of the first set, I kind of couldn't see the ball anymore."

What's the big deal? The high heat is grueling for players and may also change how the tournaments are structured and played.

  • This year, a new rule was implemented to partially close the roof at the main stadium, Arthur Ashe, in an attempt to provide more shade for players.
  • However, the roof being closed has now resulted in less breezes flowing through, with some players noting the impacts of these weather conditions on their game.
  • After facing off against each other, Medvedev and Rublev both were visibly exhausted, with Medvedev immediately covering himself in ice.

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What are people saying?

Here are Medvedev's more considered thoughts after his win on Wednesday about what could be done:

Julia Elbaba, a former professional tennis player and current sports journalist for NBC, is covering the U.S. Open, and spoke with All Things Considered's Juana Summers about how this heat is affecting the game:

And former tennis star John McEnore had his say on ESPN about what he believes the United States Tennis Association should do:

So, what now?

  • High temperatures in New York show no sign of ceasing until Saturday, where possible rainfall could drop temperatures a few degrees.
  • And the tournament carries on, with the women's singles final on Saturday and the men's singles final on Sunday.

Learn more:

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Manuela López Restrepo
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.