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Heat is the biggest foe in Australian Open

BY JOHN PYE - The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- There were clearly varying degrees of opinion on what constitutes extreme heat after a scorching second day at the Australian Open.

Roger Federer thinks it's a "very mental thing" -- he's learned to deal with the heat across a record 57 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, winning an unprecedented 17 men's majors.

The Swiss star was as cool as usual in his straight-set opening win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth yesterday afternoon, his first under the supervision of new coach Stefan Edberg. But he had more shade on Center Court than there was out on Court 6, where the first two matches ended in injury retirements and Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic collapsed during the third.

Dancevic got up and finished, losing 7-6 (12), 6-3, 6-4 to No. 27 Benoit Paire, and later said the conditions were "inhumane" and "definitely hazardous." Andy Murray agreed after his 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 win over Go Soeda, advising officials not to be too cavalier with the rules. "It looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing," Murray said.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro joined Federer and Murray as players advancing.

Two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka also advanced, describing playing on the Rod Laver Arena surface as "like you're dancing in a frying pan."

By the time Maria Sharapova beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 6-3, 6-4, just before midnight, the temperature had dipped from a blazing 42 degrees Celsius (108 degrees F) to a relatively cool 30 C (86 F).

The heat continued Wednesday as top-seeded Serena Williams beat Vesna Dolonc, 6-1, 6-2. Temperatures hit 108 degrees during No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic's 6-0, 6-4, 6-4 win over Leonardo Mayer.

Australian Open organizers opted against suspending matches because they said the humidity level was relatively low. Tim Wood, the chief medical officer, conceded players experienced "heat-related illness or discomfort," but added: "None required significant medical intervention after they had completed their match."

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