Carlos Alcaraz followed in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal by applying sawdust to his arms to help his grip in the sticky hot conditions during his US Open quarter-final clash with Alexander Zverev. Players have been complaining about the heatwave at Flushing Meadows this year with Daniil Medvedev expressing his fear earlier in the day that “one player is going to die”.
The women’s quarter-final clash between Madison Keys and Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova was also disrupted after a spectator collapsed in the stands. New York City is currently experiencing some of the hottest temperatures on record with stifling humidity for players to deal with.
There have been a noticeable amount of medical timeouts this year with players trying to recover. Alcaraz appears to have coped better than most in the extreme heat, but even the Spaniard needed to find a way to combat excessive sweating.
The No 1 seed had just taken a commanding two-set lead against Zverev before the German took a medical timeout.
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With his opponent going off the court, Alcaraz was seen dousing his arms in sawdust. The 20-year-old had filled an entire tennis ball box with sawdust and he began applying the product to his arms and hands.
It’s a trick tennis players have used in the past to help combat sweating and improve grip on their rackets. Nadal was seen doing the same trick at the 2022 French Open during his semi-final clash against Zverev.
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That match was being played under the roof inside Court Philippe-Chatrier with both players struggling with the conditions. Nadal ended up reaching into his bag to rub sawdust on his hands to get rid of the sweat.
It’s not a modern trick though as many players of yesteryear often kept sawdust on their person in matches. Ivan Lendl would regularly play with a pocketful of sawdust to quickly apply to his hands when he needed to.
Some of his opponents often complained though as Lendl would take time rubbing it on the grip and trying to wipe off any excess sawdust before getting in position to play the next point. John McEnroe made headlines back in 1983 when he launched some sawdust at a rowdy spectator during his match against Vitas Gerulaitis with the American being fined $1,850.
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