Djokovic, Serena on fire at Aussie Open
THREE-TIME men's defending champion Novak Djokovic and women's top seed Serena Williams were ice cool on yet another blazing day at the Australian Open, reaching the third round in style.
Djokovic beat Argentina's Leonardo Mayer 6-0, 6-4, 6-4 in just one hour and 47 minutes yesterday.
It was a better performance by Djokovic after his sloppy first-round performance against Slovakia's Lukas Lacko on Monday. He broke the tall Mayer's service five times and did not face a break point on his own serve.
Djokovic, who has had problems in the past with the Melbourne heat, said he was now better prepared for his matches in the Australian summer.
"I've matured and I got physically better, and changed a few things in my diet that help me to maintain the fitness at a high level throughout the year," he said.
"Obviously, it wasn't always like this. Even today, it was as hard for him (Mayer) as it was for me, and you have to find that mental edge in the tough moments and overcome the conditions.
"I remember back in 2009, I retired on the court against Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals here because of the heat...I did struggle in the past and I'm just happy to see that aspect progressing."
Djokovic's next opponent will be either Russian 30th seed Dmitry Tursunov or Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.
Williams was also irresistible, dishing out a straight-sets demolition of Serbia's Vesna Dolonc to stay on track for her sixth Australian Open title.
The world No. 1 has been in ominous touch, winning 11 titles last year and opening this year with victory at the Brisbane International.
She has brought that form to Melbourne, dropping just six games so far, with her 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Dolonc setting up a third-round clash with either Daniela Hantuchova or Karolina Pliskova.
Williams raced through the match in oven-like conditions at the Rod Laver Arena in just 63 minutes, with her booming serve making the difference.
"I'm still excited just to be here and playing in front of this crowd. I'm happy to still be alive," said Williams, who seemed to barely break a sweat despite the sweltering conditions.
Asked how she stayed so cool in the heat, she replied: "I don't know, I just pretend that I'm in Hawaii and surfing a wave."
Meanwhile, the tournament has been hit by a record number of pullouts as temperatures hovered around 40 deg C for a second straight day.
After a first round overshadowed by players fainting and vomiting in the heat, nine of them have either retired or forfeited their matches, according to an official tally.
The total is the highest in one round at the Australian Open and equals the Grand Slam Open-era record, matching the first round at the 2011 US Open and Wimbledon's second round last year.
While most of the players cited injuries, Dutch player Robin Haase went out with cramp, which is often set off by high heat.