The heat was inescapable on the second day of the 2018 US Open, with everyone having something to say on how to make it through the difficult conditions and advance in Flushing Meadows.
David Kane
August 28, 2018

NEW YORK, NY, USA - The press conferences from Day 2 of the US Open were starting to play out like call and response from a stand-up routine, with "How hot was it?" the prevailing question on everyone's lips.

"It was bloody hot," British No.1 Johanna Konta joked after her first round loss to Caroline Garcia. "My eyes are, like, still burning and I wasn't even out there for very long."

"I think if you go out yourself, you probably know that it's really warm and it's tough to play," Kiki Bertens added, relieved to have escaped Kristyna Pliskova in two sets.

"I’m the kind of player who sweats a lot," explained 2014 Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova. "I had to change my shoes three times because they were getting really wet."

With the Extreme Heat Rule in effect, players were afforded a 10-minute break before a deciding set; players trying to close their matches out in two had no such luxury, and had to do what they could to stay cool.

"We got a little lucky," said No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki, crediting the shadows on Arthur Ashe Stadium. "Normally I'm like, 'Oh, the shade, I'm not sure.' But today the shade was really helpful to be able to just cool down a little bit. It was definitely much cooler on the side with the shade, so that helped.

"Other than that, it was just about trying to think cool thoughts and drink a lot of water and be well prepared."

"I had an ice bath before the match and I got full of carbs and electrolytes to make sure my body is ready for this heat."
Lesia Tsurenko

For Lesia Tsurenko, two-time Abierto Mexicano Telcel champion and Wozniacki's next opponent, the preparation began the night before her first round against Alison van Uytvanck, drawing on her experience from her title runs in Acapulco.

"I had an ice bath before the match and I got full of carbs and electrolytes to make sure my body is ready for this heat. When I was warming up on court, I was sweating so much, and I thought, ‘Ok, we need to work on this.’ It was really hot.

"I think I learned my biggest lessons about hot weather in Mexico, because it’s hot and humid there. I learned many things there because it was just incredibly hot. I used to do an ice bath before matches there so I could cool my body down and be 100% for these conditions."

Venus Williams often excuses bad weather by citing her hot and humid training base in Florida, though even the seven-time Grand Slam champion admitted the conditions have been tougher than usual.

"I train around 7AM to miss most of the heat," she said after outlasting Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday. "Maybe I should start training at noon."

Caroline Wozniacki, US Open

"The breeze was horrible because it didn’t cool you down, it was just a hot breeze," agreed Olympic champion Monica Puig after her 6-0, 6-0 win over Stefanie Voegele. "But I’m quite used to all this, because I train in Miami where it’s both hot and humid, so I felt comfortable out there."

Once on the court, hydration was key for all those playing matches at the height of the steamy on-court conditions.

"It's one of the hottest days that I remember here, for sure," 2016 champion Angelique Kerber noted after her win against Margarita Gasparyan. "I was really trying to drink a lot of water before the match, trying to staying in the locker room where it's a little bit cooler. But at the end, when you're out there, you just try to survive a little bit."

The schedule was kind to two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, who has long struggled with asthma and doesn't typically thrive in humidity. Things might have turned out differently for the No.5 seed had she not managed to finish off Yanina Wickmayer in straight sets, despite trailing 1-4 in the second.

"I expend a lot of energy on court because it keeps me playing well and intense. I was thinking how getting nervous can cause you to waste energy as well, so I was focusing on staying relaxed, and keeping my energy inside."
Dominika Cibulkova

"I think I was pretty lucky to play first on today, definitely," Kvitova said. "I knew it's going to be very hot, but I couldn't imagine how horrible the heat was, so it was pretty difficult conditions. Luckily, I didn't play third one, but from the beginning was okay. Though, the longer we played, it was hotter and hotter."

Energy conservation was equally essential, even for the tour's liveliest competitors. 

"I’m very aware of cramping; that’s happened to me a lot," Cibulkova said after beating Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus in three grueling sets. "I expend a lot of energy on court because it usually keeps me playing well and intense. I was thinking how getting nervous can also cause you to waste a lot of energy as well. 

"I was really focusing on staying relaxed, and keeping my energy inside so I didn’t spend it on my tightness."

Jelena Ostapenko, US Open

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko opted to keep things positive after her three-set win over Andrea Petkovic, crediting the Extreme Heat Rule with helping her reset and take a strong lead in the decider.

"I think it helped me a lot. I went to the bathroom and changed the outfit for the new one to be more fresh. Then I just stayed in air conditioning for, like, 10 minutes. I went back on court and I broke her serve straightaway."

Told by a reporter that Petkovic thought the locker room AC made the heat outside all the more stifling upon resumption, the youngster shrugged.

"I felt different from her, probably."

With another hot day on the horizon, the second round, like the ever-warming Earth itself, will likely revolve completely around the Sun.