Bring on the heat, says man-for-all seasons Federer

Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:48am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Searing heat forecast to hit Melbourne Park's second round matches on Thursday holds no fear for Roger Federer, who welcomed the chance to test his 31-year-old body in extreme conditions.

The Swiss maestro played his opening match of the Australian Open in far gentler weather on Tuesday, trouncing France's Benoit Paire 6-2 6-4 6-1 on a sun-drenched afternoon at Rod Laver Arena.

Former players and pundits have cast doubts on Federer's ability to handle a marathon in draining heat at Melbourne Park, particularly against the likes of the ultra-fit Novak Djokovic and his fellow 25-year-old Andy Murray.

Federer, who plays Russian former world number three Nikolay Davydenko on Thursday when 39 degrees Celsius heat is forecast, said he was not concerned about the weather.

"Obviously (it) has a big effect, but I'm not worried about the heat in any way," he told reporters.

"I have practiced and played so many matches over the years in a lot of heat. I almost favor myself over my opponent in the heat.

"Obviously when you get the hot match, you try not to stay out there for too long. But then again, if you have to, that's what it is. That's part of the game."

John McEnroe questioned second seed Federer's ability to overcome champion Djokovic and twice finalist Murray in a long match in the heat this week.   Continued...

Roger Federer of Switzerland wipes his brow during his men's singles match against Benoit Paire of France at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 15, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville