Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka beat the heat with a quick-fire win into the Australian Open second round on Tuesday as summer temperatures soared into the upper 30s Celsius.
An hour or so after her win, play was halted for a minimum of two and a half hours under the tournament’s heat rules, creating a logjam for a crowded Day 2 schedule.
Sabalenka led a parade of early women’s winners who all got the job done in around an hour on court at Melbourne Park.
Sanalenka, who tuned up with a title at the WTA Adelaide event, defeated Czech Tereza Martincova 6-1, 6-4 in 69 minutes.
“It wasn’t an easy match, I’m just happy with the good start here. I’m really doing everything I can to get as far as I can.
“The only thing I can say is that I’m really working hard, physically and mentally; I’m ready to go deep.
“Hopefully I will do my best on court, but I definitely need to cool down,:” she said post-match.
Sabalenka was joined as a quick winner by Camilla Giorgi who needed 55 minutes to blow Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova off the court 6-0 6-1.
The Italian didn’t have to out-perform, with her opponent contributing more than 20 unforced errors.
“It was a great match, especially in the first round,” Giorgi said. “It’s a very good start to the day.”
Taylor Townsend, once touted as a hot prospect but bothered by a weight problem, posted her first win at a Grand Slam in three years.
The American wild card entry who took time away from the game to have a child, buffeted Diane Parry 6-1, 6-1, taking a mere 57 minutes.
“I just felt like from start to finish I was in control of what I was doing,” she said.
“I was able to just maintain my composure and continue to execute. For my next match I want to start where I ended today and keep progressing.”
Ekatereina Alexandrova clocked the shortest match time with her 52-minute defeat of Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure 6-2, 6-1.
French fourth seed Carolina Garcia, winner of the WTA Finals in November, put aside a first-round loss here a year ago, overwhelming Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov 6-3, 6-0 in 65 minutes, winning the final nine games.
The winner said she hardly expected to be placed on the Laver show court, but she quickly adapted to the prime-time venue.
“It was nice to be able to walk in the shadow. I don’t know if in the crowd there is some AC or whatever (electric fans blowing water drops into the stands), but it felt warm, but it felt okay.
“There were nerves, I think there will always be some. That means I care about what I’m doing.
“I was not expecting at the beginning to play on Rod Laver, so I was a little bit surprised when I saw the schedule out. It’s actually my first win on Rod Laver, so it was pretty nice.”
Canada got a revenge win as 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez defeated Alize Cornet of France 7-5, 6-2, breaking through for a first win here after three first-round defeats.
“I did well to manage my emotions, and manage the heat,” the winner said.
“I tried not to get too hot-headed. I’m happy to be on to the next round.”
2020 finalist and two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza served for victory but was eventually dealt out in her opening match, with the Spaniard falling 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 to Elise Mertens of Belgium.
Muguruza has now lost four consecutive matches this season in the first round.