Nadal, Federer, Murray through in 'inhumane' heat

Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:42am EST
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By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal got a free pass into the second round of the Australian Open when Bernard Tomic retired injured on Tuesday, a welcome reprieve from stifling heat that led one player to describe conditions at Melbourne Park as "inhumane".

Australian Tomic, booed off Rod Laver Arena by his compatriots, blamed a groin injury for withdrawing having lost the opening set 6-4, leaving top seed Nadal to join fellow "Big Four" players Roger Federer and Andy Murray in securing his passage.

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka led third seed Maria Sharapova and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki over the first hurdle in the women's draw, but there was only one topic of conversation on day two of the championships.

"Every single person that I saw coming in from practice or going out to play a match or coming back from a match, everyone just said like, 'It's really hot today'," Murray told reporters after beating Go Soeda 6-1 6-1 6-3.

Azarenka said being on court was like "dancing in a frying pan" and Wozniacki thought her water bottle was going to melt, but for some players the impact of the extreme heat, forecast to continue until Friday, was more serious.

Frank Dancevic slammed organisers for forcing players to compete in "dangerous" conditions after he collapsed on court and passed out for a minute in his match on one of the more exposed outer courts.

"I think it's inhumane, I don't think it's fair to anybody, to the players, to the fans, to the sport, when you see players pulling out of matches, passing out," the Canadian told reporters after his defeat to Benoit Paire.

"I've played five-set matches all my life and being out there for a set and a half and passing out with heatstroke, it's not normal.   Continued...

Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a return to Bernard Tomic of Australia during their men's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 14, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic