Roger Federer kept his cool on a scorching hot second day at the Australian Open, starting his record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament with a straight-sets victory in front of new coach Stefan Edberg.
Federer was the second match on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, and the temperature topped 41 Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) during his 6—4, 6—4, 6—2 win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth.
Two-time defending women’s champion Victoria Azarenka played the previous match on the centre court, and said it felt “like you’re dancing in a frying pan.”
Yet after her 7—6 (2), 6—2 win over No. 91-ranked Johanna Larsson of Sweden, Azarenka went back out to practice.
Asked how he handled the heat, the 32-year-old Federer said, “I’m here. I’m speaking. Actually, it’s not crazy.”
“It was very dry, just hot, stinging sort of sun,” he added later. “Depending on where you come from it has a bigger effect on you, this type of heat. So it’s very personal, and it can become just a very mental thing you just can’t accept that it’s hot.”
Federer said Edberg, a childhood hero whom he hired on a part-time basis last month, practiced with him before the match. He proudly stated, “He warmed me up .... I won!”
The heat at Melbourne Park topped 42C (108F) later, and the forecast was for more high temperatures until Friday. It was even hotter in nearby Avalon, which peaked above 45C (113F).
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, on the comeback from minor back surgery in September, had a 6—1, 6—1, 6—3 win over Go Soeda of Japan in a late afternoon match, and No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro rallied for a 6—7 (1), 6—3, 6—4, 6—4 win over U.S. qualifier Rhyne Williams in a loaded top half of the draw.
Former No. 1-ranked Lleyton Hewitt went down in five sets to No. 24-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy only a week after beating Federer in the Brisbane International final.
A hot, gusty breeze swirled across Melbourne Park all day, making conditions more challenging instead of cooler. The crowd for the day session was 35,571, almost 12,000 down on day one.
Players draped bags of ice over their necks and shoulders and sat under covered seats in the changeovers. They retreated into the shade at the back of the courts between points.
Spectators covered their heads and shoulders with damp towels to cool off and queued in front of large electric fans blasting water at their faces. A ball kid was treated for heat stress during a morning match.
Some players struggled. Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic said he blacked out during a 7—6 (12), 6—4, 6—3 loss to No. 27 Benoit Paire of France. Dancevic had treatment in the second set but continued.
“I think it’s definitely hazardous to be out there,” Dancevic said. “It’s dangerous.”
Czech veteran Radek Stepanek retired with a sore neck in the fourth set against Blaz Kavcic, but said it wasn’t heat-related.
Frenchman Stephane Robert, who got a late spot in the draw when No. 21 Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew, beat Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene 7—6 (3), 6—3, 6—0.
No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 Australian finalist, advanced along with No. 11 Milos Raonic, No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 16 Kei Nishikori who needed five sets to beat Australian Marinko Matosevic and No. 31 Fernando Verdasco.
On the women’s side, No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanzka, No. 8 Jelena Jankovic, No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 11 Simona Halep, No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova and American Christina McHale all advanced.
Former No. 1-ranked Wozniacki said the court was scorching in her 6—0, 6—2 win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino, which started at 11 a.m.
In her first Grand Slam match since her New Year’s Eve engagement to golfer Rory McIlroy, she did everything she could to keep cool.
“Ice bags, ice towels, everything,” Wozniacki said. “I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath, the plastic, so you knew it was warm.”