Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Sports

Federer triumphs as temps soar

MELBOURNE, Australia — Roger Federer kept his cool on a scorching second day at the Australian Open, starting his record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory in his first match with Stefan Edberg as a coach.

Federer was the second match on Rod Laver Arena early this morning, and the temperature topped 106 degrees during his win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth.

Two-time defending women's champion Victoria Azarenka played the previous match on the center court at Melbourne Park and said it felt "pretty hot, like you're dancing in a frying pan or something like that."

After her 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 win over No. 91-ranked Johanna Larsson of Sweden, Azarenka went back out to practice and said she planned an ice bath as a recovery.

Asked how he handled the heat, Federer said: "I'm here. I'm speaking. Actually, it's not crazy. I'm feeling okay right now."

He now owns the record for playing the most consecutive Grand Slam events, another milestone in a career that has netted 17 major titles.

The Swiss star, 32, kept the points as short as possible and gave No. 133-ranked Duckworth only one look at a break point in the 1-hour, 46-minute match.

He said it was "great fun" to finally play in front of childhood hero Edberg, whom he hired on a part-time basis last month.

"I used to watch his matches and get inspired," Federer said, then added: "He warmed me up. … I won!"

Conscious of the time and the temperature, former No.  1 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 11 Simona Halep raced to straight-sets wins.

Wozniacki said the court was so hot in her 6-0, 6-2 win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino that it seemed to melt her plastic water bottle. 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.

"Every time in the changeovers, ice bags, ice towels, everything; and then in the second set I could feel they were starting to heat up even more," 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."

Halep had a 6-0, 6-1 win over Polish qualifier Katarzyna Piter, while American Christina McHale advanced 7-5, 6-4 over Taiwan's Chang Yung-jan and No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain beat Vania King of the United States 6-3, 6-2.

Players draped bags of ice over their necks and shoulders and sat under covered seats in the changeovers across Melbourne Park. They retreated into the shade at the back of the courts between points.

A hot, gusty breeze swirled across the venue all day. Spectators on outside courts covered their heads and shoulders with damp towels and queued up to stand in front of large electric fans blasting water at them.

Australia has endured record temperatures this summer after a 2013 that is believed to have been its hottest year ever.

No. 13 John Isner, the only seeded American man in the draw, retired with a nagging right ankle injury after losing the first two sets 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) against Martin Klizan.

CAPRIATI case: Jennifer Capriati won't face battery and stalking charges in Palm Beach stemming from a 2013 confrontation with an ex-boyfriend. Capriati, 37, attended anger management sessions last week and did 30 hours of community service at Florida Hospital Pepin Heart Institute in Tampa.

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