Murray facing extreme heat at Australian Open
ANDY Murray and Laura Robson will face demanding conditions as temperatures are expected to soar at the Australian Open Thursday.
Forecasts are for temperatures close to 40C and Murray will experience the worst of it when he plays Joao Sousa.
The British number one is scheduled in the second match on Hisense Arena at approximately 02:00 GMT (1pm locally).
Robson faces former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second night match on Rod Laver Arena, around 9pm locally.
Murray, 25, swept aside Robin Haase in round one and should not be delayed too long against Portuguese Sousa, the world number 100.
“I don’t know too much about him, but I’ve seen him play a couple of matches during the clay-court season last year in Barcelona,” said the Scot.
“I also saw him a little bit at the French Open as well.”
Talking before the order of play was announced, Murray was asked about the prospect of being scheduled in the heat of the day.
“Preferably when there’s a bit of shade on the court in temperatures like that, it obviously helps,” said Murray.
“For a majority of the day, it’s going to be tough conditions to play in and I need to be ready for it.”
Sousa has played most of his career on the lesser Challenger Tour, and admitted he is likely to find Murray too powerful.
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” said the 23-year-old. “He showed that, he won a lot of big tournaments. He’s a very strong player.
“And weaknesses? I don’t know if he has it, but I’ll try to find it. He looks to be in very good shape and probably had a vey good pre-season and feels confident about this match.”
If Murray is an overwhelming favourite for his match, Robson is less of an underdog in hers than the statistics might suggest.
Kvitova, 22, is the eighth seed in Melbourne and was as high as second in the world this time last year.
However, her powerful attacking game – to which fellow left-hander Robson’s is often compared – is unpredictable.
“We’re both lefties and I think, in general, lefties tend to have a certain game style, and certain patterns, just because it works that way,” said Robson, ranked 53rd.
“But I would say there’s quite a lot of differences as well.”
And while admitting she does not enjoy the heat, Robson hopes that past experiences in places like Hobart and Palermo will stand her in good stead.
“There are going to be some iced towels on court for sure. I think it’s going to be tough for everyone on Thursday but you’ve just got to try to get through it,” she said.
Robson and Kvitova will follow the opening night match between Roger Federer and Nikolay Davydenko, which starts at 08:00 GMT.
Defending champion and top seed Victoria Azarenka opens the day on Rod Laver Arena against Eleni Daniilidou of Greece at 00:00 GMT, before five-time champion Serena Williams takes on Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.
Wimbledon doubles champion Jonny Marray teams up with Brazilian Andre Sa against Slovakians Lukas Lacko and Igor Zeleny, while Jamie Delgado and Ken Skupski take on Poles Tomasz Bednarek and Jerzy Janowicz.
Djokovic demolishes Harrison, cruises into third round
NOVAK Djokovic stormed into the third round of the Australian Open with a three-set demolition job on American Ryan Harrison as his bid for a hat-trick of titles remained right on course.
Three-time Australian Open winner Djokovic took just 91 minutes to destroy the 20-year-old American 62 6-1 6-2 6-3 showing some of his best tennis under the lights on Rod Laver Arena.
Starting off by winning 12 of the first 13 points, Djokovic went on to take the first set in just 20 minutes, and he never really took his foot off the gas and he laid down a marker for the rest of the field.
One man certainly not enjoying watching Djokovic will be Czech Republic journeyman Radek Stepanek, who will face the Serbian superstar in the last 32.
“I tried to focus on the start and I knew that he had nothing to lose and would come out with his big serves, but I managed to make some very important early breaks at the start of the match,” Djokovic said.
“I was a set up after 20 minutes and it was a mental advantage, I felt much more comfortable on the court.
“I don’t think he was playing at his best, it was probably the occasion playing on the centre court, but I wish him all the best, I think he has a good future.”
Also in the evening session, number eight seed Janko Tipsarevic looked in big trouble as he was taken to five sets by Slovakian Lukas Lacko, but he just about managed to squeeze into the next round.
Lacko came storming back from two sets down to force a decider, but it was the Serbian who just abaout managed to come out on top and seal victory 6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-5.
Spain’s 22nd seed Fernando Verdasco has fewer problems negotiating his path into the last 32 as he beat Xavier Malisse of Belgium in straight sets 6-1 6-3 6-2.
Ferrer made to work hard as Fleming, Jammie Murray bow out
DAVID Ferrer was made to work harder than expected but still progressed to the third round of the Australian Open.
The fourth seed was predicted to brush aside the challenge of American Tim Smyczek, who only earned a place in the main draw following compatriot John Isner’s withdrawal through injury, but was instead pushed to four sets.
Spaniard Ferrer eventually came through 6-0 7-5 4-6 6-3 to set up a clash with Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, himself a four-set winner over Japan’s Tatsuma Ito.
Also Scottish duo Colin Fleming and Jamie Murray made a first-round exit from the men’s doubles event.
Fleming won the warm-up event in Auckland last week alongside Brazilian Bruno Soares with regular partner Ross Hutchins having been diagnosed with cancer.
But his partnership with Murray failed to fire in Melbourne, as they went down 7-5 7-5 to German Michael Kohlmann and Finn Jarkko Nieminen.