The 2014 Australian Open has been one of the hottest tournaments in recent memory, but the extreme heat has brought the best out of the top players in Melbourne.
With stars like Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer all pushing through the first two rounds, the momentum that each has created will help them continue to advance in the first major tournament of the season.
Here are all the players that will overcome the heat and thrive through the rest of the 2014 Australian Open.
Spanish star Rafael Nadal is one of the most talented players in the world, and competing in the heat of Melbourne is something the veteran has become accustomed to over the many years playing on tour.
Despite the adverse conditions, Nadal beat Thanasi Kokkinakis, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, on Thursday to cement his spot in the third round. Kokkinakis had been playing well, but the heat and Nadal’s power were too much for the Australian wild-card entry to handle.
This was Nadal’s first real test of this year’s Australian Open, after Bernard Tomic retired from the duo’s first-round matchup with an injury. With confidence brimming after a win over Tomic and Kokkinakis, Nadal is ready to thrive in spite of the heat in the year’s first Grand Slam.
While Maria Sharapova faced a tough test against Karin Knapp in the second round, working through the extreme heat to pull out a three-round victory, 6-3, 4-6, 10-8, she is still one of the best female players in the world.
Sharapova dominated Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the opening round of the Australian Open, 6-3, 6-4, and looked to be playing at an elite level once again. Her win over Knapp wasn’t perfect, but she overcame a tough opponent and the sweltering heat to make an impact.
After building momentum and confidence through her first two victories, Sharapova will now have to square off against No. 25 seed Alize Cornet in the third round. Cornet may be an exciting player, but Sharapova will grunt her way through the heat to another hard-fought victory.
There are few players with as much experience as Roger Federer left in the tournament, and it will take more than sweltering Australian heat to shake the living legend’s momentum after dominating the first two rounds.
Federer attacked the first round with the kind of ferocity he showed early in his career, devastating James Duckworth in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. The straight set dominance continued as Federer beat down Blaz Kavcic, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4).
The rest of the men’s field must complete their matches before the next-round opponents are determined, as the soaring temperatures forced postponements for several matches, per the Associated Press via ABC News.
Regardless of which player is next on the schedule for Federer, the Swiss sensation should have no problem pushing forward and advancing to the next round.