Heat, rain, lightning, thunder, frogs falling from the sky … Wait, that was Magnolia, but the first four did happen on a day when Melbourne threw absolutely everything at the players and spectators.
With the extreme heat rule coming into effect shortly before 2pm, several matches on the outside courts were suspended until conditions improved. And when play did resume more than four hours later, lightning halted play before rain caused further delays.
It was that kind of day.
Is there anything Maria Sharapova can't do? She wins Grand Slams, stays thin despite having her own candy line – that really is the definition of discipline – and today she braved the heat to pull off a 6-3 4-6 10-8 win over Karin Knapp in three hours and 28 minutes. The Russian third seed celebrated by writing “Love the heat baby!” when she signed the camera; a little tongue in cheek, perhaps?
But you really have to feel for Andreas Seppi, this year’s Marathon Man. The 24th seed survived a five-set thriller in the first round with Lleyton Hewitt only to go down in another five-setter today against Donald Young, who moves through to the third round of the Australian Open for the first time. In all Seppi racked up 10 sets and 87 games in seven hours and 49 minutes on court in two matches.
And while Seppi left heartbroken, it was an elated Alize Cornet who dropped to the court and flailed her limbs around like a hyperactive upturned turtle (if you don’t believe me, YouTube it). Twenty-fifth seed Cornet survived a searching 6-3 4-6 6-4 win over Camila Giorgi.
Over on Hisense Arena, Roger Federer – he may have needed directions to Melbourne Park's secondary stadium – had few problems relegating Blaz Kavcic to the sidelines in a 6-2 6-1 7-6(4) win. It was Roger's 70th Australian Open win, yes, another record – he's the first to reach this number of victories in Melbourne.
It was a good day for the 10th seeds, with both Caroline Wozniacki and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga getting the job done. Wozniacki survived a see-sawing three-set affair with Christina McHale, while Tsonga ended Thomaz Bellucci’s challenge in straight sets.
Dominika Cibulkova put Stefanie Voegele to the sword and almost dished up a double bagel, winning 6-0 6-1. Sixteenth seed Kei Nishikori disposed of Dusan Lajovic with little trouble, and Grigor Dimitrov was too good for Yen-Hsun Lu.
Gael Monfils wrung out a very sweaty Sock, Jock Sock that is, in straight sets; Victoria Azarenka eased past Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova 6-1 6-4, and Sloane Stephens survived a scare from Ajla Tomljanovic, winning 3-6 6-2 7-5.
Meanwhile Simona Halep has equalled her best-ever result at the Australian Open by making it to the third round. She'll take on qualifier Zarina Diyas, who called time on New Zealander Marinka Erakovic's tournament with a straight-sets win.
What did you say?
“I tried to keep my swear words to a minimum.”
Thanasi Kokkinakis on how playing on Rod Laver Arena with a large TV audience watching forced him to curb his enthusiasm.
It’ll be a long drive home for …
Matt Ebden. I know he lost to Vasek Pospisil on Wednesday night, but Thursday night’s news that the 28th seed has withdrawn from the tournament due to the same back injury that troubled him during their second-round match will be hard for Ebden to hear.