MELBOURNE — Serena Williams kept her cool Friday as this week’s heat spell faded at the Australian Open, with players in distress on courts around the grounds casting a sombre light on the so-called “Happy Slam.”
China’s Jheng Zie was slathered with ice and a doctor took her blood pressure during one point in a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Casey Dellacqua.
The joys of summer in January for northern hemisphere natives have been tempered as a record heatwave — four days of at least 40-degrees-Celsius temperatures in a row, the most since records began — entered what is billed as its final day with a cool change already starting to be felt by early evening.
Predictions of a halving of the temperature began coming true in with a drop from 42 C to 32 in an hour.
Top seed Williams played in the heat of the day, reaching the fourth round 6-3, 6-3 over Slovak Daniela Hantuchova.
“I feel good to have gotten through that one because it was tough conditions out there, but I was happy to win,” said the first woman in history to win 61 matches over her career in Melbourne. She now stands 9-1 over Hantuchova.
“Today actually wasn’t as hot, I think it was more hot yesterday. Honestly, on the one end I felt it was like a cool breeze coming over, so that was a good sign.”
2013 finalist Li Na lost her opening set to Czech Lucie Safarova, but tightened her game for a 1-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 comeback as visions of an early exited haunted her during the win under an open show court roof.
“At least I won the match, so still in the tournament. I was really happy the way is fight on the court from first point until the last point.
“After the second set, lucky thing is we have 10- minute break. That saved a little bit energy. Otherwise, if we continue, it is more or a mental game on the court. In the second set I was feeling like real, real tired.”
Germany’s Angelique Kerber advanced over American Alison Riske 6-3, 6-4 while teenager Eugenie Bouchard reached the fourth round for the first time in her career at a major, beating Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-2.
Ekaterina Makarova defeated Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-4, 6-4, while Italian Flavia Pennetta, who caught up on her sleep Thursday when her doubles was cancelled, earned a win over German Mona Barthel 6-1, 7-5.
On the men’s side, third seed David Ferrer quietly went about winning over Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 7-6 (7-1), 6-2.
“I tried to play every point and to be focused every point. But I know when I won the second set I was two sets up. It was very hot, and I know it was difficult for him.”
Pole Jerzy Janowicz discovered the cost of playing against doctor’s orders with a broken bone in his foot, losing to German Florian Mayer 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.
“Before I left Poland it was still a little bit broken; it was not 100-per-cent healthy. There was still quite a bit inflammation. I’ve been taking against-inflammation pills, and we will see how it’s going to be,” he said.