MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer kept his cool on a scorching hot second day at the Australian Open, starting his record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament with a straight-sets victory in front of new coach Stefan Edberg.
Federer was the second match on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, and the temperature topped 41 Celsius (106 Fahrenheit) during his 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth.
Two-time defending women's champion Victoria Azarenka played the previous match on the center court, and said it felt "like you're dancing in a frying pan."
Yet after her 7-6 (2), 6-2 win over No. 91-ranked Johanna Larsson of Sweden, Azarenka went back out to practice.
Asked how he handled the heat, the 32-year-old Federer said: "I'm here. I'm speaking. Actually, it's not crazy."
"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 resulted in 17 major titles for the Swiss star.
Federer said Edberg, a childhood hero whom he hired on a part-time basis last month, practiced with him before the match. He proudly stated: He warmed me up .... I won!"
The heat at Melbourne Park topped 42C (108F) later, and the forecast was for more high temperatures until Friday. It was even hotter in nearby Avalon, which peaked above 45C (113F).
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.
Former No. 1-ranked Lleyton Hewitt went down in five sets to No. 24-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy only a week after beating Federer in the Brisbane International final.
A hot, gusty breeze swirled across Melbourne Park all day, making conditions more challenging instead of cooler. The crowd for the day session was 35,571, almost 12,000 down on day one.