Australian Open: Weather to threaten more delays this week following Monday's washout

Eric Leister

The weather has already proven disruptive for the Australian Open, which kicked off on Monday, Jan. 20, with poor air quality and wet weather plaguing the Melbourne region.

The first day of the tournament had significant impacts from the weather as a storm that passed through southeastern Australia brought showers and thunderstorms.

Spectators wait as rain stops play during a first round singles match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

The wet weather caused several matches to be rescheduled.

Dry weather returned to Melbourne on Tuesday as beautiful conditions allowed for no delays to play.

This spell of dry weather will continue into early Wednesday afternoon, while a north to northeasterly wind will bring an increase in heat with temperatures set to reach 32 C (89 F). The normal high temperature for the middle of January is 26 degrees Celsius (around 78 degrees Fahrenheit).

An increase in winds may also affect play on Wednesday with frequent gusts of 30-50 km/h (18-31 mph).

Rain and thunderstorms may again threaten play from late Wednesday into Thursday as another cold front crosses Melbourne.

Drier weather will then prevail from midday Thursday into Friday.

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Additional days of dry weather are forecast for this weekend to wrap up the first week of the tournament.

Whether or not it will rain will not be the only forecast closely scrutinized for the tournament. Air quality will also determine if matches will be postponed or moved indoors.

In this Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, aerial photo, wildfires rage under plumes of smoke in Bairnsdale, Australia. Thousands of tourists fled Australia's wildfire-ravaged eastern coast Thursday ahead of worsening conditions as the military started to evacuate people trapped on the shore farther south. (Glen Morey via AP)

Controversy rose last week as qualifiers began amid smoky conditions in Melbourne. Matches were postponed and several athletes shared concerns over the safety of the conditions.

"The more I think about the conditions we played in a few days ago, the more it boils my blood," British player Liam Brody posted on Twitter. "We can't let this slide. The email we received yesterday from the ATP and AO was a slap in the face, conditions were 'playable'. Were they 'healthy'?"

The annual tennis tournament and first of the sport's four 'Grand Slam' events, will continue into early February.

Air quality may again deteriorate this week as winds turn out of the northeast on Wednesday. This could pull smoke into the area from the "megafire" burning in the eastern part of Victoria, and air quality may deteriorate throughout the day.

If this occurs, it will likely be short-lived as a storm system is expected to sweep through the region Wednesday night into Thursday, whisking any poor air quality away from the region.

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