Tennis

Del Potro ousted in five-set Aussie thriller; Sharapova survives heat

Maria Sharapova
It wasn't easy, but Maria Sharapova found a way to advance in Australia.
Share This Story

   
 

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)

Maria Sharapova toiled in 43-degree Celsius (109 F) temperatures for more than 3 1/2 hours on Rod Laver Arena and could count herself among the unlucky early starters at the oppressively hot Australian Open on Thursday.

After organizers finally decided to suspend matches due to extreme temperatures in a heat wave gripping southeastern Australia, late lighting and rain caused further delays on day four.

FUN IN MELBOURNE

The Australian Open is in the books, and what a fortnight it was. Check out some shots of the lighter side of the event.

Caroline Wozniacki highlighted the unpredictable Melbourne weather, describing the conditions as ''pleasant'' when she played on Rod Laver Arena immediately after Sharapova. And comparatively, it was. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer also enjoyed the milder temperatures when they played evening matches indoors.

The roof at Rod Laver Arena re-opened when weather conditions improved, and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray won the last 23 points in the featured night match to come back from 5-1 down in the third set and beat French qualifier Vincent Millot 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.

''It was 6-5 when I went to serve for it, and someone shouted out, `You won 19 in a row','' Murray said. ''I would say that's probably the most I'd ever won in my career by far. I don't really know how I did it.''

In the biggest upset so far at the tournament, No. 5-seeded Juan Martin del Potro ended a long day at Melbourne Park by losing his second-round match 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. The 3-hour, 53-minute match finished at 1:20 a.m. Friday, more than 14 hours after play began on day four.

Earlier, organizers invoked their `Extreme Heat Policy' and the roofs on the two main arenas were closed in the afternoon. Matches on outside courts, meanwhile, were suspended for more than four hours until temperatures dropped.

Problems with the weather didn't end there - thunderstorms, lightning and rain showers hit during the early evening, forcing another suspension of play for matches on the outer courts.

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka was spared, playing indoors when she beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1, 6-4.

TWITTER PARTY!

Follow what the top players are saying, get updates from the scene and more with our Australian Open Twitter feed.

Her main rival on the bottom half of the draw had to endure the harshest conditions of the day.

The temperature was 39 C (102 F) when Sharapova's match against No. 44-ranked Karin Knapp started just after 11 a.m. local time. It increased to almost 43 C by the time she finished off a 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 win on her fourth match point, 50 minutes after her first. It was the longest women's match so far in the tournament.

''I wanted this match,'' Sharapova said. ''I didn't play my best tennis; I didn't do many things well ... (but) I got through it, and sometimes that's what's important.''

At the height of the heat, Sharapova, dripping in sweat, wasted three match points on serve in the 10th game of the third set, and then had to save break points and serve to stay in the match.

She'll next meet No. 25 Alize Cornet of France, who sobbed on court after beating Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in 2 1/2 hours.

''I went really further than my limits. It was really hot, that's why I'm so emotional,'' Cornet said of the conditions.

Wozniacki had a 6-0, 1-6, 6-2 win over American Christina McHale, No. 8 Jelena Jankovic defeated Ayumi Morita 6-2, 6-0 and No. 13 Sloane Stephens, who beat Serena Williams here last year in the quarterfinals, defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Federer played on the second show court at Melbourne Park for the first time in a decade, and raced to a 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 ( 4) win over Blaz Kavcic under the roof at Hisense Arena.

Federer said he didn't mind the switch - he'd played 63 consecutive matches on Rod Laver since 2004.

''It was nice ... it's not really different to Rod Laver Arena really,'' Federer said. ''Dimensions feel the same, the crowds were really nice, great atmosphere. I was happy playing there.''

He was playing at the same time as Nadal for the first time in years at Melbourne Park. Nadal had no trouble in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Australian wild-card entry Thanasi Kokkinakis under the roof on Rod Laver Arena.

''Very happy to see the roof out there today,'' Nadal said.

No. 16 Kei Nishikori had a 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (3) win over Dusan Lajovic. He will next play American Donald Young, who beat No. 24 Andreas Seppi 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in one of the matches suspended for nearly four hours due to the heat.

Other winners included No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 11 Milos Raonic, No. 18 Gilles Simon, No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 25 Gael Monfils.

Organizers announced that Canadian Vasek Pospisil withdrew with a back injury from his scheduled third-round match Friday against No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka.

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Tennis Videos

Djokovic tops Federer in five-set Wimbledon final Posted: Jul 06, 2014
Novak Djokovic captures his second Wimbledon title while denying Roger Federer a...

Dramatic Moments of the Week: 6/2-6/8 Posted: Jun 09, 2014
We count down the most dramatic moments from the week in sports, including the K...

Williams sisters bounced at Roland Garros Posted: May 28, 2014
Andy Roddick on Venus and Serena losing on the same day at the French Open.

Fox Sports Store