AP Tennis Writer
NEW YORK — Sara Errani figures she knows the real culprit for the dizziness, sore throat and general weakness that nearly cost her a match at the U.S. Open on Thursday: air conditioning.
Yes, that’s right. The 16th-seeded Italian, who has been the runner-up at the French Open and a semifinalist at the U.S. Open, said the AC has been turned up too high in the locker room at Flushing Meadows.
And in the main interview room in the tournament’s media center.
At her hotel, too.
Everywhere she goes in the Big Apple, really.
“In Europe, there’s not this much air conditioning. Here, you exaggerate a bit,” Errani said at her post-match news conference, wearing a thick, gray hoodie with the zipper pulled all the way up to her chin.
“Too much back and forth with the temperature,” she lamented. “You go outside, it’s hot. You come inside, it’s cold. Every time.”
Errani said she felt so sick — a headache, a cough — that she couldn’t think straight and “more than once” came close to quitting during what turned out to be a 0-6, 6-4, 6-3 second-round victory over 18-year-old qualifier Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. They played for two hours, finishing a little after 1 p.m., on a day when the temperature hit 90 degrees (32 Celsius).
Contrast that with what Errani, who faces 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur next, said the locker room felt like: 50 degrees (10 Celsius).
Actually, according to U.S. Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier, the temperature in the women’s locker room Thursday was precisely 70.4 degrees (21 Celsius). And, for the record, it was 69.8 in the interview room where Errani’s news conference was held.
“We have the ability to adjust temperatures in different zones in the building. We do know there is quite a varied degree of personal preference among players and others, especially from different parts of the world,” Widmaier said.
“The temperature in those two locations, we felt, was the appropriate one, around 70 degrees — one slightly above, one slightly below,” he added. “We will take Ms. Errani’s concerns seriously.”
And Errani’s not alone.
“I see a lot of players in the locker room who are struggling with the cold,” said Andrea Petkovic, a German seeded 18th who won in straight sets Thursday to reach the third round. “Especially when it’s so humid outside, I get it — they want to protect the people who are inside all day and keep them from sweating. But the problem for us is that we sweat a lot when it’s humid, and then you come inside and it’s really cold.”
Petkovic said that at other tournaments, she usually goes to cool down after a match before taking a shower. At the U.S. Open, she takes a shower first to regulate her body temperature.
And what about Errani’s complaint about the American fascination with AC?
“When I walk into any hotel for the first time, the first thing I do — I don’t even bring in my bags — I just go straight to the air conditioning and I turn everything off,” Petkovic said.
Then she added with a laugh: “We Europeans, we’re a little sissy. We don’t like it cold. We like it just perfect.”
Widmaier said other players have told the USTA they thought the locker rooms were too cold. He also noted that others have said the locker rooms were too warm.
“It’s a difficult balancing act,” he said with a smile, “when it comes to temperature.”