Nadal, Federer, Azarenka Win as Australian Open Heat Reaches 108

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal advanced at tennis’s Australian Open as his opponent pulled out after a set. Four-time winner Roger Federer and defending champion Victoria Azarenka also won while two players and a ball-boy needed medical treatment because of soaring temperatures.

Nadal, who missed last year’s tournament through injury, took the only set 6-4 in Melbourne before Bernard Tomic, the men’s No. 57 from Australia, quit with a groin problem stemming from the opening game of the first-round match.

“I want to say sorry to Bernard. I hope he gets better soon,” the Spaniard said in a televised post-match interview. “For the first few games he was serving unbelievable, but it’s difficult when a match ends like this.”

Nadal, 27, reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings last year after a seven-month layoff with a knee injury. He’s bidding for his second Australian Open title, having won in

2009. The 13-time Grand Slam singles champion will next play Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, a player ranked 569 places below him.

Heat enveloped the second day of the season’s first major tournament, with temperatures peaking at 108 degrees (42.2 Celsius).

China’s Peng Shuai suffered cramp and vomited during her loss to Japan’s Kurumi Nara, while Canada’s Frank Dancevic fainted during his three-set defeat to Benoit Paire, the No. 27 seed from France, according to a British Broadcasting Corp. report. Dancevic said the decision to make players compete in such high temperatures was “inhumane,” the BBC added.

‘Frying Pan’

Second-seed Azarenka is bidding for a third straight Australian Open title. The 24-year-old Belarusian has not won any of the three other Grand Slams, though she lost in the U.S. Open final to Serena Williams the past two years.

She had no aces and seven double faults in her 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 win against 90th-ranked Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

“It felt pretty hot, like you’re dancing in a frying pan or something like that,” Azarenka said.

Men’s fourth seed Andy Murray of the U.K. and No. 5 Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina advanced to the second round. Murray, playing his first Grand Slam since back surgery in late September, won 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 against Go Soeda of Japan. The Scot has reached three of the last four Australian Open finals.

Del Potro Victory

Del Potro was a 6-7 (1-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 winner against American Rhyne Williams, who served 29 aces. John Isner, at No. 13 the only seeded American man in the tournament, was two sets down today when an ankle injury forced him to concede his match against Slovakia’s Martin Klizan.

Former men’s No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia was beaten in five sets by the 24th-seeded Italian Andreas Seppi. Seppi led by two sets to love, and was a break up in each of the final three sets, before Hewitt recovered to within a point of the match. Seppi eventually served out for a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 7-5 victory.

Tenth-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France beat Italian Filippo Volandri 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

A ball-boy collapsed and needed medical support during Canadian Milos Raonic’s four-set win over Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain.

Tournament referee Wayne McKewen said in an e-mailed statement that even though the conditions were hot, “the relatively low level of humidity ensured that conditions never deteriorated to a point where it was necessary to invoke the extreme heat policy.” That can involve closing the stadium roof.

‘Looks Terrible’

The event’s chief medical officer, Tim Wood, said none of the players who’d experienced difficulties required “significant medical intervention” after their matches. The temperature peaked at 5.45 p.m. during Murray’s victory.

“As much as it’s easy to say the conditions are safe, it only takes one bad thing to happen,” the Scot said.

“It looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball-kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing. That’s obviously not great,” Murray added.

The heat wave is expected to last for three more days, with thermometers going as high as 109 degrees, forecasters 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,” Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 10 from Denmark, told reporters after a first-round win.

Wozniacki said winning in 67 minutes allowed her to avoid the worst of the heat.

“It was important for me to just close it out as quick as possible,” she said in a news conference. “I went to get an ice bath after my match.”

Stephens Wins

Sloane Stephens, who last year beat fellow American Serena Williams before losing to Azarenka in the semifinals, came through her first-round match, beating Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 7-6 (7-1), 6-3.

Also winning first-round women’s matches today were No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and No. 11 Simona Halep of Romania.

The temperature was 102 degrees Fahrenheit and wind was swirling on the court at 29 miles per hour (47 kilometers per hour) when Federer began his first-round match with Australia’s James Duckworth in the early afternoon.

By the time the sixth-seeded Swiss player had finished off a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory in one hour, 46 minutes, the temperature was up to 105 degrees.

“It can become just a very mental thing, and you just can’t accept that it’s hot,” Federer told reporters. “If you can’t deal with it, you throw in the towel.”

Seventeen-time major winner Federer is competing in his 57th straight Grand Slam tournament, a record since tennis went professional in 1968.

Maria Sharapova of Russia is playing her opening match tonight against American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

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