The saying goes "if you can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen." Well Novak Djokovic did just that during his quarterfinal match against Andy Roddick.
Djokovic won the first set 7-6 in a tie break. Full of energy and in great ball striking form, Novak looked unstoppable. Suddenly, after the first couple games of the second set, Djokovic hit a wall.
With the rising on court temperatures reaching over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, Djokovic's game slowly wilted into oblivion. Roddick was up 2-1 in the fourth when Djokovic retired from the match. The final score was 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 2-1.
Depending on what side of the court you were watching you may or may not have believed the ridiculously torrid temperatures. Roddick hustled after each and every ball, bouncing between points, and was seen jogging to his bench during changeovers. For Andy, the heat was not a factor.
Djokovic, on the other hand, retreated into the shade any chance he got. Continually closing his eyes and wincing in pain between points, the sun seemed to literally suck the energy out of Novak's body. For Djokovic, the heat was real and the threat of danger was imminent.
Though it is undeniable that Djokovic was struggling, could such suffering have been prevented with better offseason preparations? Perhaps he did not hydrate enough the evening before, or perhaps he literally cannot take the heat. Whatever the case may be, Djokovic needs to address his health issues.
Each grand slam tournament has a unique flavor that the players must embrace or overcome. The French Open has its red clay, Wimbledon has rain delays and an air of pompousness, the U.S. Open is full of rowdy New Yorkers, and the Australian, well the Australian has the heat.
Players should not be surprised about these x-factor complications, but rather, they must embrace the situation and attack it full force. Roddick worked hard in the offseason so that he'd be prepared for a five-setter in Aussie Open heat. Andy's off court preparation made the heat a non-factor. Not the case for Djokovic.
So there you have it. The defending champ gets scorched (literally) and retires in the beginning of the fourth set.
Though it is never a good way to win, Roddick is surely happy about advancing to the semi-finals. Next up he faces a red hot Federer who blasted Del Potro off the court with a 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 straight sets victory.
If Roddick has a strong serving performance, dictates points early, and plays a smart transition game he has a chance. Let's be honest though, his only chance is if Federer has an off day. Who knows—maybe the heat will get to Roger? Don't count on it.
Either way I wish Andy the best of luck and hope to see some exciting tennis. As for Novak, I hope a quick trip to the North Pole restarts his engine.