Melbourne: On Friday, Scorching temperatures suspended play at the Australian Open tennis grand slam in Melbourne, expected to be the hottest day in a decade, as a week-old heat wave brought power outages and left streets bare in the business district. Firefighters went on alert as the mercury crept towards an expected maximum of 44 degrees Celsius (111 F), the highest since Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 that killed about 180 people in the southeastern state of Victoria.
Tournament organisers informed on social media that "Glam Slam and Australian Tennis Championships matches have been suspended on all outside courts at Melbourne Park and Albert Reserve," It was the second day that heat had affected play, after the roof at the Rod Laver arena was closed on Thursday for the women's semi finals match.
While the swelling heat did not stop the world No. 4, Japan's Naomi Osaka, from taking to the practice courts early, ahead of Saturday's women's final, where she faces the world number 6, the Czech Petra Kvitova. Crowds were only expected to gather later in the day for the men's semi finals between world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and Lucas Pouille of France, ranked 31.
In Victoria, home to 4 million people, rolling power outages of two hours each could hit about 60,000 homes, after blackouts on Thursday in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, which saw temperatures hit 46.2 C (115.16 F), surpassing a record set in 1939.
Australia's power operator again ordered industrial users to ease back and decrease pressure on Victoria's overloaded grid, including an aluminium smelter owned by Alcoa in the town of Portland.
While Only a few people sat under the umbrellas outside Melbourne cafes that are usually heaving by midday, while ice cream melted slowly in the open-air store front of a Ben and Jerry's that had no customers. Still, some businesses were banking on more patrons as temperatures cool ahead of a long weekend anchored by Saturday's national holiday, Australia Day.