Top seeds Murray, del Potro, Federer advance in Australia heat wave

Roger Federer kept his cool against James Duckworth as the temperature in Melbourne soared to over 100 degrees.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- 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 second match on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, and the temperature topped 41 Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) during his win over Australian wildcard James Duckworth.

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.''

''It was very dry, just hot, stinging sort of sun,'' he added later. ''Depending on where you come from it has a bigger effect on you, this type of heat. So it's very personal, and it can become just a very mental thing - you just can't accept that it's hot.''

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 one-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.

''I used to watch his matches and get inspired,'' Federer said, then added: ''He warmed me up .... I won!''

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, on the comeback from minor back surgery in September, had a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 win over Go Soeda of Japan in a late afternoon match, and No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro rallied for a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over U.S. qualifier Rhyne Williams in a loaded top half of the draw.

Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, made several unforced errors to drop the first-set tiebreaker, but cleaned up his game in the second set and controlled the rest of the three-hour match.

The Argentine player is coming off a victory at the Sydney International tournament last week, his 18th career title.

He hadn't lost to a player ranked as low as No. 130-ranked Williams since Tokyo in 2009, when he fell to No. 189 Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Andreas Seppi ended perennial local favorite Lleyton Hewitt's 18th appearance at the Australian Open with a 7-6 (4), 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 7-5 win Tuesday.

Former No. 1-ranked Hewitt, who beat 17-time major winner Roger Federer in last week's Brisbane International final, had a match point late in the 4-hour, 18-minute match. But he was broken in that 11th game before Seppi held serve in the next to close out the 63-minute fifth set.

The closest Hewitt has come to capturing the title at his home Grand Slam event was as losing finalist to Marat Safin in 2005.

The heat at Melbourne Park topped 42 C (108F), and the forecast calls for more high temperatures until Friday. Temperatures in nearby Avalon peaked above 45C (113F).

A hot, gusty breeze swirled across the venue all day, making conditions more challenging instead of cooler and keeping the crowds down. The crowd for the day session was 35,571, almost 12,000 down on day one.

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.

Spectators 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. A ball kid was treated for heat stress during a morning match.

Some players struggled. Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic said he blacked out during a 7-6 (12), 6-4, 6-3 loss to No. 27 Benoit Paire of France. Dancevic had treatment in the second set but continued.

''I think it's definitely hazardous to be out there,'' Dancevic said. ''It's dangerous.''

He was playing on Court 6, where Polona Hercog retired after one game and where 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. Isner said he was bothered by a right ankle injury.

Czech veteran Radek Stepanek retired with a sore neck when he was down a break in the fourth set against Blaz Kavcic, after winning two of the first three, but said it wasn't heat-related.

Frenchman Stephane Robert, who got a late spot in the draw when No. 21 Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew, beat Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-0.

No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 Australian finalist, advanced along with No. 11 Milos Raonic, No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 16 Kei Nishikori - who needed five sets to beat Australian Marinko Matosevic - and No. 31 Fernando Verdasco.

Nishikori won four straight points on Matosevic's serve to take a 2-0 lead in the final set as temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

He also saved three break points in the fifth game of deciding set that would have put the players back on serve.

Nishikori, who won the Kooyong exhibition tournament last week, had treatment for blisters on his left foot during a short medical timeout in the third set.

He will play qualifier Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in the second round.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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