Sharapova Survives Heat at Australian Open

Posted on January 16, 2007

Two seeded upsets on the women's side Tuesday at the Australian Open in Melbourne where court temperatures over 120 degrees caused officials to implement the tournament's Extreme Heat Policy, closing the roofs on Rod Laver and Vodafone arenas and temporarily halting outside court matches. Eventually 10 women's matches were postponed to Wednesday.

Japan's Aiko Nakamura ousting (32) Eleni Daniilidou 6-4, 6-0 as the Greek hope melted under the scorching conditions, and in another upset Kaia Kanepi beat (28) Flavia Pennetta in straights.

Seeds getting their matches in amidst the brutal conditions were (1) Maria Sharapova (d. Pin 9-7 in the third), (4) Kim Clijsters (d. Bardina 0-and-0), (6) Martina Hingis (d. Dechy 0-and-2), (12) Anna Chakvetadze (d. Bammer), (13) Ana Ivanovic (d. King, bagel in the second), (24) Samantha Stosur (d. Zakopalova), (29) Alona Bondarenko (d. Cohen Aloro), and (30) Tathiana Garbin (d. Gagliardi 6-1 in the third).

Sharapova jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third set over the Frenchwoman Pin before the heat and stomach cramps took their toll. Pin won five straight games to even things at 5-5 before Sharapova held serve and eventually hung on for the win, hardly moving between points and looking like she could become sick at any moment during the changeovers.

"I was so delusional I couldn't think," Sharapova told reporters. "It was hard to think about what you were going to do on court because you were just mentally trying to find a way to kind of make the points shorter and basically trying to find a way to win. It's inhumanly possible to play three hours in that kind of heat. I don't think our bodies were made to do that."

The diminutive Pin on the other hand seemed barely effected by the heat and didn't hesitate to scramble for every ball in an attempt to make the struggling Russian stay on the move.

"I was so close that I thought it was my day, but apparently it was not, so next time," Pin told reporters.

With the roof closed, Clijsters allowed her opponent Bardina only two points on her own serve during the entire match in a 6-0, 6-0 thumping.

"I felt lucky I was able to play on that court with the roof closed, and get to play as well, otherwise it can be a very long day here," the Belgian said. "Yeah, I felt very lucky to be out here and play. I was just happy to get it over with. But, you know, felt very into the zone today. I was seeing the ball well."

Unseeded winners of note Tuesday were India's Sania Mirza (d. Savchuk) and Aussie hope Alicia Molik (d. Chan).

"About a year and a half ago, I didn't know if I'd ever pick up a racquet," Molik said of her severe inner ear infection. "I was told so. When you're 24 or 25, I really did start thinking about new careers, a new pathway I guess in life. When you contemplate all that, it's pretty frightening, you know. Scared me out of my boots. But I'm really thankful that I am healthy now, that I'm back playing."

Seeded players and other matches of interest scheduled for Wednesday are (3) Kuznetsova vs. Adamczak, (2) Mauresmo vs. Poutchkova, (5) Petrova vs. Dulko, Serena Williams vs. Anne "Kosmo" Kremer, (11) Jankovic vs. Ruano Pascual, (7) Dementieva vs. Muller. (10) Vaidisova vs. Sequera, (8) Schnyder vs. Brengle, (9) Safina vs. Bychkova in an all-Russian, (23) Sugiyama vs. Yakimova, (15) Hantuchova vs. Cornet, (20) Golovin vs. Ondraskova, (21) Srebotnik vs. Benesova, (19) Li vs. Bovina, (18) Bartoli vs. Azarenka, an all-French in Loit vs. Rezai, (26) Kirilenko vs. Vakulenko, (17) Groenefeld vs. Zahlavova, (14) Schiavone vs. Safarova, (22) Zvonareva vs. Obziler, and (16) Peer vs. Tu.