Six-time champion in Melbourne, Novak Djokovic advanced to the third round of the Australian Open in gruelling conditions on Thursday.
The super Serb survived the brutal heat on Rod Laver Arena to beat France’s Gael Monfils 4-3, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
With temperatures peaking at 39.9 degrees Celsius and reports of 69 degrees being measured on the court surface, Djokovic recovered from a poor opening set to take his record over the unseeded Frenchman to 15-0.
So extreme was the condition that Monfils needed to be checked by a tournament doctor on Rod Laver Arena in the second set when the torrid conditions left him appearing woozy at times.
In an on-court interview, Djokovic said: “Well it was obvious that we both suffered on the court today.”
“Tough conditions, brutal.”
“Gael is one of the best athletes in our sport. I was just hanging in there to keep every chance to progress. Obviously he wasn’t at his best, he was tired at the end of the second and third sets, the fourth could have gone either way really. It’s great to be back at the Rod Laver Arena again.”
Djokovic will next face Spaniard Albert Ramos on Saturday.
Earlier, in the Women’s Singles, unseeded Maria Sharapova beat 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets to advance to the third round of the Australian Open.
The Russian, beaten in three sets by the Latvian at the US Open last year, won 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in 80 minutes.
“I’m happy to get through on a day like this,” the five-time Grand Slam champion said.
Sharapova will next face Germany’s 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, who celebrated her 30th birthday by overcoming Croatia’s Donna Vekic 6-4 6-1.
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza is out of the Australian Open after being beaten 7-6 (1), 6-4 by Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan in the second round.
World no. 1 Simona Halep will continue her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title against Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard later on Margaret Court Arena.