Same heat, same story. More 100-plus degree temperatures in Melbourne ensures that the 2014 Australian Open is the hottest ticket in town—literally.
Most of the best players have been able to continue their ascent to the later rounds. That includes world No. 1 Serena Williams and men's three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.
Here's a look at the top stories heading into Day 6.
Still Fighting the Heat
The first major elimination of a higher seed took place on Friday when No. 5 seed Juan Martin Del Potro lost to 62nd-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, in the second round.
Hopes had been high for the Spaniard in the event, but the 25-year-old seemed to be fighting a losing battle with the Aussie heat throughout the tournament and his countryman Agut on Friday.
The temperatures could have been a factor, but Del Potro made no excuses for his loss. Per Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times, Del Potro said:
I think sometimes the favorites lose very early in a Grand Slam, like Federer in Wimbledon or Rafa, and then other ones in the U.S. Open.
Here is my chance to get out very early in the tournament. But the season just started. I will try to be positive for the rest of the year.
On Thursday, officials finally halted play briefly as temperatures reached 110 degrees, per Rothenberg.
Varvara Lepchenko had perhaps the scariest physical reaction to the heat. In her match with Simona Halep, she became ill and needed medical attention just to finish.
She became physically unstable during the second set, and even after a break due to the heat, she was easily defeated, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.
After the match, she said this:
I just couldn’t physically get up. I’m feeling still a little bit weak—feel like I want to sit down all the time and lay down. Not so great, you know.
On my returns, I couldn’t see the ball. It was just like one step leading to another, and toward the middle of the second set, I started feeling more and more dizzy.
The early-round play in Melbourne has been filled with an uneasy feeling. Some may just be hoping that matters conclude without any fans, players or ball boys and girls suffering serious heat-related illness.
Serena Sets Record
The world's most dominant female player continues to add to her list of distinctions. Williams stormed into the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Daniela Hantuchova.
It was her 61st career win at the Aussie Open, which broke the great Margaret Court's record. The official Twitter account of the Australian Open acknowledged Williams' accomplishment.
The three games Hantuchova won in both sets were the most any of Williams' opponents mustered in the tournament. Making such short work of the opposition should help to ensure Williams is at her best in the later rounds.
She will face Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round.
Novak Djokovic Keeps Rolling
Djokovic is looking unbeatable in Melbourne again. The three-time defending champion just keeps rolling over the competition. His 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 win over Denis Istomin was his 27th straight victory in the Australian Open.
Barring some major surprise, Djokovic may not see a real test until he reaches the finals. The 15th-seeded Fabio Fognini will oppose Djokovic in the fourth round after he defeated American Sam Querrey.
Fognini may be Djokovic's most difficult opponent yet, but Nole's bid to become the first player to win four straight Aussie Opens in the Open Era is looking good.
In Day 5's wrap up, Casey Dellacqua was recognized for her strong play through two rounds. The 28-year-old Aussie kept up her winning ways in the third round as she handed Jie Zheng a 6-2, 6-4 defeat.
Dellacqua has advanced to the fourth round of the Aussie Open for the second time in her career. She'll next face the 30th-seeded Eugenie Bouchard with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.
On the men's side, unseeded American Donald Young knocked off No. 24 seed Andreas Seppi, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, to reach the third round. The former can't-miss prospect has had a somewhat disappointing career, but a deep advancement in the Australian Open would be a benchmark for him. In 2005, Young was the youngest year-end World No. 1 in junior rankings at 16 years, 5 months.
He's only 24 years old now, so he still has time to make some serious noise in the sport.
He'll play the tough and 16th-seeded Kei Nishikori in his next match, and he could possibly play Nadal in the fourth round.
Here's the schedule for Saturday's (Friday and Saturday in the U.S.) action in Melbourne:
|Rod Laver Arena|
7 p.m. EST
|Rod Laver Arena|
2 a.m. EST
|Hisense Arena |
7 p.m. EST
|Hisense Arena |
2 a.m. ES
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