Federer, Azarenka advance as Aussie heat wave arrives; Isner out
Roger Federer kept his cool on a scorching second day at the Australian Open, starting his record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory in his first match with Stefan Edberg as a coach.
Federer was the second match on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, and the temperature topped 41 Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) during his win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth.
Two-time defending women's champion Victoria Azarenka played the previous match on the center court at Melbourne Park, and said it felt "pretty hot, like you're dancing in a frying pan or something like that."
After her 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over No. 91-ranked Johanna Larsson of Sweden, Azarenka went back out to practice and said she planned an ice bath later as a recovery.
Asked how he handled the heat, the 32-year-old Federer said: "I'm here. I'm speaking. Actually, it's not crazy. I'm feeling OK right now."
He now owns the record for playing the most consecutive Grand Slam events, another milestone in a career that has already netted 17 major titles for the Swiss star.
He kept the points as short as possible, and only gave No. 133-ranked Duckworth one look at a break point in the 1-hour, 46-minute match.
He said it was "great fun" to finally play in front of childhood hero Edberg, who he hired on a part-time basis last month.0
"I used to watch his matches and get inspired," Federer said, then added: "He warmed me up .... I won!"
Conscious of the time and the temperature, former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki and No. 11 Simona Halep raced to straight-sets wins.
Wozniacki said the court was so hot in her 6-0, 6-2 win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino, which started at 11 a.m., that it seemed to melt her plastic water bottle.
In her first Grand Slam match since her New Year's Eve engagement to golfer Rory McIlroy, she did everything she could to keep cool.
"Every time in the changeovers, ice bags, ice towels, everything; and then in the second set I could feel they were starting to heat up even more," Wozniacki 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."
Halep had a 6-0, 6-1 win over Polish qualifier Katarzyna Piter, while American Christina McHale advanced 7-5, 6-4 over Taiwan's Chang Yung-jan and No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain beat Vania King of the United States 6-3, 6-2.
Players draped bags of ice over their necks and shoulders and sat under covered seats in the changeovers across Melbourne Park. They retreated into the shade at the back of the courts between points.
A hot, gusty breeze swirled across the venue all day, making conditions more challenging instead of cooler. Spectators on outside courts covered their heads and shoulders with damp towels to cool off and queued up to stand in front of large electric fans blasting water at their faces.
As well as the heat, there were injuries and retirements. No. 13 John Isner, the only seeded American man in the draw, retired after losing the first two sets 6-2, 7-6 (6) against Martin Klizan. He called for the trainer after the tiebreaker, tapped his racket on the ground three times while deliberating whether to go back out, and only played on for a few minutes in the third set.
Isner attributed it to the same right ankle problem which bothered him on the way to the title at Auckland, New Zealand last week.
It was the second retirement in as many matches on Court 6. No. 25 Alize Cornet only had to win one game before Polona Hercog of Slovenia retired with an undisclosed injury.
Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany didn't make it onto court, withdrawing before his first-round match due to a strained left hamstring.
The No. 21-seeded Kohlschreiber was replaced in the draw by Frenchman Stephane Robert, who beat Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-0.
Among the other men advancing were No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 11 Milos Raonic, No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 16 Kei Nishikori, who needed five sets to beat Australian Marinko Matosevic.
Isner out of Australian Open due to ankle injury
John Isner's stay in Australia has been cut short by injury for the second year in a row.
The 13th-seeded American retired with a nagging right ankle injury during his first-round match at the Australian Open on Tuesday after losing the first two sets to Slovakia's Martin Klizan 6-2, 7-6 (6).
Last year, Isner was forced to withdraw before the Australian Open even began with bone bruising in his right knee.
Both injuries happened in the same unlucky place for the American — the Hopman Cup in Perth, a team exhibition event that is one of the warm-up tournaments for the first Grand Slam of the season.
"I know movement is not the best part of my game," the 2.08-meter (6-foot-10) Isner said, "but at a certain point I've got to be able to move without pain and I wasn't able to do that today."
Isner was the only American man seeded at this year's Australian Open. (Canada, by contrast, has two — Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil — both of whom won their first-round matches.)
The big-serving Isner has struggled with injuries to his knees over the past year, retiring from his second-round match at Wimbledon with a left-knee injury after pulling out of the Australian Open with the right knee injury.
But he was feeling confident coming into the new season, largely because his knees felt fine.
He said after he tweaked the ankle in Perth, he decided to play another warm-up tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, last week to see if it would feel better. He was in pain the entire week, but remarkably went on to win the tournament.
"I was able to win my first match and didn't feel good afterwards and then I won again. The whole thing in Auckland was bizarre because I never expected to win that tournament," he said.
"I didn't come down here to win Auckland. I love that tournament but I came down here to try to do well here and that wasn't the case."
Isner said the injury isn't serious — he had an MRI in Perth and it didn't reveal any bone fractures.
He's returning to the U.S. to rest in a bid to be ready for a Davis Cup match against the Andy Murray-led British team in early February, which will be played at a makeshift clay court set up in the outfield at Petco Park, a baseball stadium in San Diego, California.
"I feel like I will get over (this injury). It doesn't concern me as much as some knee issues I've had in the past," he said. "I fully intend to get ready for Davis Cup."