Cloud cover and a gusty wind helped keep temperatures just below
the peak of 42.2 degrees Celsius they reached on Tuesday, when
Canadian Frank Dancevic passed out and accused organizers of forcing
players to play in "inhumane" conditions.
Ivan Dodig became the 10th player to retire in the first three days
of the tournament, though, when he was unable to complete his match
against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur on one of the exposed outer courts at
"Today, 30 minutes after the match I could not walk," Croatian Dodig
told reporters. "There were 10 people around me. I was thinking I
could maybe even die here.
"I think we deserve that somebody listens to the voice of the
Djokovic needed 107 minutes to take the second step on the path he
hopes will take him to a fourth successive title by thrashing
Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-0 6-4 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.
Williams also hot-footed it into the third round with a one-sided
6-1 6-2 demolition of Vesna Dolonc before revealing her own
particular visualization technique for keeping cool.
"I just pretend I'm in Hawaii riding a wave. That's all I can do,"
she said after setting up an encounter with Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova who survived a grueling battle against Karolina Pliskova,
winning 12-10 in the deciding set.
Djokovic retired from a match against Andy Roddick in another
Melbourne heatwave five years ago but proved against Mayer that he
is an altogether stronger player than in 2009.
"You don't want to spend too much time in the heat. You want to try
to win as quick as possible," the second seed, who next faces Denis
Istomin, told reporters.
"I prepared myself mentally for that. It's not just physically.
Mentally you need to be tough enough to not give up and not think
about what conditions can do to you."
World number one Williams was her usual mix of elegance in her dress
and brutality in her play as she dismissed Dolonc in just over an
hour on the same court.
Though no one could ever doubt the mental strength of a player who
has won 17 grand slam titles, Williams admitted to a sleepless night
worrying about the impact the heat might have on her bid for a sixth
"I kept waking up in the middle of the night last night, just
paranoid," Williams told reporters.
"I just wanted to stay hydrated. The last thing I want to do is to
cramp in this weather. It can happen so easy. I was just drinking a
tremendous amount of water."
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Williams has seen off at least a couple of generations of
younger women looking to knock her off the top of the game and
16-year-old Swiss Belinda Bencic is tipped to be in the vanguard
of the next wave.
The qualifier, coached by the mother of Martina Hingis, started
poorly in her match against Chinese fourth seed Li Na but after
losing the first seven games, rallied to force the second set
into a tiebreak before losing 6-0 7-6 (5).
Two former grand slam champions who have dropped out of the top
10, Ana Ivanovic and Samantha Stosur, had straightforward
two-set victories to set up a third round meeting on Friday,
when temperatures could hit 44 degrees Celsius.
"I think there's got to be some common sense," Australian Stosur
said. "Because you don't want it to get dangerous and have
somebody getting hurt because of it."
Seventh seeded Czech Tomas Berdych, dressed in what looked like
a blue and white striped Argentina soccer shirt was the first
man into the third round when he hammered Frenchman Kenny De
Schepper 6-4 6-1 6-3.
Berdych said conditions were the hottest he had played in and
suggested that if the threshold for stopping matches had not
been reached, it was probably set too high.
France's Richard Gasquet soon joined Berdych by beating Russian
Nikolay Davydenko 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 6-4 in match that featured a
candidate for point of the tournament.
Davydenko looked to have clinched it with a no-look underarm
shot from behind the baseline only for ninth seed Gasquet to hit
an outrageous winner over his shoulder running back into the
court away from the net.
Third seed David Ferrer continued his progress through a section
of the draw further weakened by the 6-4 3-6 6-3 3-6 6-3 defeat
of 14th seed Mikhail Youzhny at the hands of Florian Mayer on
Ferrer's unrelenting fighting spirit put him in good stead in
his match over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who won the second
set before wilting in the heat and going down 7-6 (7-2) 5-7 6-0
World number eight Stan Wawrinka, playing in the relative cool
of the evening on Margaret Court Arena, also needed four sets to
get past Alejandro Falla 6-3 6-3 6-7 (7-4) 6-4.
(Editing by John O'Brien and Martyn Herman)
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