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Australian Open 2014 Day 4: Del Potro out as Sharapova survives

Maria Sharapova survives the heat at the Australian Open
by Alexandra Willis at Melbourne Park
Thursday 16 January 2014

Wimbledon.com's highlights from the fourth day of play at the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne

Taken to extremes
It was the hottest day yet down under, the hot wind of day 2 and the overcastness of day 3 giving way to unprotected, blazing sun. Ice was ferried here, there and everywhere, and the women's 10-minute break rule was enforced as the shade became the only place to be.

Maria Sharapova wore an ice vest,  Varvara Lepchenko was covered in ice packs, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga wore a visor, Jamie Murray had heat stroke, and the various hotels around Melbourne were bound for very large laundry loads.

Just before 2pm, the extreme heat policy was implemented, meaning that any matches taking place on the outside courts would be halted at the end of the set in progress, and the roofs would closed on Rod Laver and Hisense Arenas.

Play resumed on RLA and Hisense almost immediately, but was delayed on the outside courts until 6pm. Just when all was ready to get going, Melbourne Park was hit by a passing storm, heavy rain and lightning, which further delayed proceedings.

The upsets
The highest seed yet to fall departed Melbourne Park at 1.30am as Juan Martin Del Potro was bamboozled by Robert Bautista Agut in five sets. After his Wimbledon semi-final, it had been thought that 2014 might be the year that Del Potro finally followed up his 2009 US Open win, as the man who could really take it to the big four. But he suffered his second straight loss in the second round of a major, the Spaniard playing the match of his life, Del Potro decidedly not so. And he had won the Sydney title too.

Also, Kurumi Nara, the next Kimiko Date-Krumm, knocked out 32nd seed Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-4, 6-3, and Bojana Jovanovski, the 33rd seed, was beaten by Yvonne Meusburger.  In doubles, Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia bumped 10th seeds Marina Erakovic and Zheng Jie.

A new generation
The two Ks, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, confirmed that the home nation has plenty to look forward to, the former playing with wind in his feet as he picked apart Benoit Paire on Margaret Court Arena for two sets, only to be beaten in five, the latter standing up to Rafael Nadal in admirable fashion, only to be beaten in three.

"Kokkinakis is one of these ones that can be there in the next couple of years," Nadal said. "The normal thing is if he is able to improve with being humble, being with the right people around that don't make you feel you are a star before the right time. So he will have the chance to be a great player. That's my feeling. He has everything to do it."

"Love the heat, baby"
Maria Sharapova produced one of the wins of her life, battling past Karin Knapp in scorching conditions in 3 hours and 28 minutes. Even the umpire wanted it to be over as quickly as possible, forgetting momentarily that there is no third set tie-break rule here in Australia. Sharapova clung on, despite seeing three match points come and go, eventually finishing 10-8 in the third. "Love the heat, baby" she wrote on the camera screen.

"There is no way getting around the fact that the conditions were extremely difficult, and have been for the last few days," Sharapova said. "I think at that point you're not thinking whether it's safe or not. You're trying to get through the match in the best possible way."

Other big wins
Sloane Stephens. After a first set hiccup, leading by a set and 3-0 when play was suspended, it looked to be straightforward for Sloane Stephens, but Alja Tomljanovic fought right back, and served for the match at 5-3. Sloane turned it on a knife edge, winning the next four games to prevail. "I was a little shaky out there," she said.

Gilles Simon. The man who was on crutches on Saturday won his second straight five-setter, downing Marin Cilic at 12.30am.

Caroline Wozniacki. The 10th seed has survived a very topsy turvy encounter against Christina McHale under the roof of RLA.
Simona Halep. It's fair to say that quite a bit is expected of the Romanian after her stand-out performance in 2013. And so went she dropped the first set to Varvara Lepchenko, you wondered if that Slam breakthrough wouldn't be coming here. But she didn't drop a game after that, coming through 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.

Cruising through
The following got out of dodge in straight sets: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elina Svitolina, Kei Nishikori, Dominka Cibulkova, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Garbine Muguruza, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Agnieszka Radwanska, Victoria Azarenka, Gael Monfils, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez, Jelena Jankovic, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov.

Best of British
Jamie Murray joined Colin Fleming, Ross Hutchins and Dominic Inglot in round two of the men's doubles, he and John Peers crafting their way to a 7-6(4), 7-6(6) win over Aussies Matt Reid and Luke Saville in the midday heat. Murray, who spent two hours recovering from heat stroke, later admitted that if they had lost that second set, he might not have made it through the rest of the match.  

Marathon matches

Gilles Simon d. Marin Cilic 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-2 in 3 hrs 57mins

Donald Young d. Andreas Seppi 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in 3hrs 31mins

Maria Sharapova d. Karin Knapp 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 in 3hrs 28mins

Carla Suarez Navarro d. Galina Voskoboeva 7-6(2), 3-6, 8-6 in 3hrs 10mins

Stats of the day

Points won by Andy Murray in a row to recover from 1-5 in the third set to take it 7-5 against Vincent Millot. That's nearly a set.

Unforced errors hit by Camila Giorgi. That meant Alize Cornet only had to win 30 points of her own making to win.


Retirements or withdrawals
1. Vasek Pospisil with a back injury.

New name
Zarina Diyas, a qualifier from Kazakhstan, through to her first Grand Slam third round. She blasted past Marina Erakovic 6-4, 6-0.

In doubles
Many matches cancelled, but notable winners included Bopanna & Qureshi (7), Murray & Peers (15), Barty & Dellacqua (5), Hsieh & Peng (2), Errani & Vinci (1), Hlavackova & Safarova (7), Llodra & Mahut (13), Black & Mirza (6), Benneateau & Roger-Vasselin (11).

Lucky losers
Martin Klizan and Stephane Robert. Both are through to the third round.

Quote of the day
"There is now new generation that should come"

Yoda. Also known as Rafael Nadal.

Photo of the day
When Casey Dellacqua's little one met Roger...

Tweet of the day
" Unbelievable.Almost had a heat stroke today.Just to find out that I'm first match on tomorrow in doubles.I hope i don't faint tomorrow!"
Varvara Lepchenko

Video of the day

Roger Federer expects...


For all the reports and results from Melbourne Park, visit the Official Australian Open website

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