Rafael Nadal urges Australian Open organisers to close stadium roof during heat wave

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Rafael Nadal is urging Australian Open organisers to protect the players and close the stadium roofs during matches if the expected heat wave that is set to hit Melbourne is deemed extreme.

The world No. 1, who claimed a convincing 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer to reach the third round on Wednesday, said he’ll be practicing indoors on Thursday to avoid the tough hot and humid conditions of Melbourne.

Temperatures are expected to rise over 40°C over the next two days and Nadal hopes officials at the tournament make the right decisions when it comes to the safety of the players. Three of the courts at Melbourne Park have retractable roofs, which would allow matches to continue irrespective of the weather conditions.

“Well, only thing that I hope, if is extreme conditions, I hope the organisation puts the roof. That’s all. I think is a health issue. Even I like sometimes play with hot. When is too much, becomes dangerous for the health,” said Nadal.

“I would not like to see here retirements. Conditions that create a bad show for the crowd. The crowd is suffering to there. In the courts that we have the roof, why not put the roof when the conditions are so extreme?

“By the way, I going to practice indoor tomorrow.”

The Australian Open’s ‘Extreme Heat Policy’ dictates that the decision to suspend play “is made at the referee’s discretion”.

“A roof will only be closed because of extreme heat if a decision has been made by the referee to suspend the completion or commencement of matches on the outside courts,” says a statement on the tournament’s official website.

Nadal got broken while serving for the match against Mayer on Wednesday but was otherwise untroubled during his two-hour 38-minute victory. He next takes on Bosnian No. 28 seed Damir Dzumhur for a place in the last-16.

Nadal retired ill during his only previous meeting with Dzumhur, in Miami in 2016.

“He improved a lot from there,” Nadal said of Dzumhur.

“He is a tough opponent. He’s a tricky one. He knows how to play tennis very well. He play with the right tactic always. Is a player that don’t going to give you nothing, no? The only way to win is play in a high rhythm than him and try to play aggressive, try to put the highest intensity possible out there. That’s what I going to try. Hope to be ready to make that happen.”

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Caroline Wozniacki 'proud' of heroic comeback against Jana Fett to make Australian Open third round

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A relieved Caroline Wozniacki hailed her greatest comeback Wednesday after saving two match points at 1-5 in the final set to keep her Grand Slam dream alive against little-known Jana Fett.

The number two seed finally prevailed 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the second round of the Australian Open on a searing Rod Laver Arena after an epic two hour and 31 minutes battle against the Croat ranked 119th.

“At 5-1, 40-15, I felt, like, I was one foot out of the tournament,” admitted Wozniacki. “She served a great serve down the ‘T’, as well. It was just slightly out. I was kind of lucky.”

The Dane reeled off four points in a row to get to 5-2 and then never looked back, racing through the next five games in just 20 minutes.

It was tough on the plucky 21-year-old Fett who, in sight of the greatest victory of her fledgling career, melted away in the centre court’s heat.

“I felt her tighten up just slightly. I thought to myself, you know what, at this point, make her win it,” added the world number two.

“When I got to 5-2, I said, OK, I’m still alive. Just try and stay aggressive. That was that.”

Asked by reporters if this was the greatest comeback of her long career, in her 43rd Grand Slam tournament, Wozniacki was unequivocal.

“Yeah, definitely. I’m very proud of the way I came back,” the 27-year-old former number one said.

“It was very hard, and she was playing well,” she added of Fett who was in the second round of a Slam for the first time.

“All of a sudden seeing myself down, almost out of the tournament, I started playing the tennis that I wanted to play.”

After being a point away from becoming the latest big-name casualty in the bottom half of a draw that has become a seeds graveyard, Wozniacki was emotional straight after.

“That was crazy, I don’t how I got back the in the match,” she said.

Wozniacki reeled off 10 points in a row from two match points down to ignite her recovery.

“Experience was crucial,” she said. “I think she suddenly realised at 5-1 what was happening and I just had to attack and take advantage of it.”

On Monday fifth seed Venus Williams, 10th seed CoCo Vandeweghe and 13th seed and reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens all made early exits, meaning the bottom half of the draw is now wide open.

Wozniacki will continue her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title in the third round on Friday against Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands who beat American Nicole Gibbs 6-7 (3), 6-0.

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Marta Kostyuk makes history as youngest to reach Australian Open third round in 22 years

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Star is born: Marta Kostyuk.

Teenage sensation Marta Kostyuk was hailed as the “future of tennis” Wednesday after she became the youngest Australian Open second-round winner since Martina Hingis in 1996.

The 15-year-old was rewarded with an all-Ukrainian clash against fourth seed Elina Svitolina as her fairytale run at the year’s first Grand Slam continued with a win over local wildcard Olivia Rogowska 6-3, 7-5.

It had commentators gushing that Kostyuk was “the future of tennis” as she extended her win streak at Melbourne Park to an incredible 11 matches after lifting the Australian Open girls’ title in 2017 and coming through qualifying this year.

“This is the future, ladies and gentlemen. 15 years of age,” said former British number one Sam Smith on Australia’s Channel 7. “This is an incredible story. This is the future of tennis on your screen.”

Before the start of this week Kostyuk’s total career prize money was $6,733, but she already has plans for the bumper $142,500 pay day she will earn even if she loses to Svitolina in the third round.

“Maybe I will get presents for my family, first of all, of course, because I have big family,” she said. “And then for myself a bit. Yeah.”

Playing since the age of five and watched by tennis-playing mum and coach Talina Beyko, who once reached 391st in the world, in her player’s box on Margaret Court Arena, Kostyuk said she had been used to setting new standards.

“I think I broke some records every year so I feel okay about it,” she said.

In the first round she had dismantled Chinese number one and 25th seed Peng Shuai in straight sets in just 57 minutes.

The talented Kostyuk continued in the same vein against Rogowska, taking the first set in 39 minutes.

“I didn’t feel like she was 15 at all,” said Rogowska. “I feel she’s going to be a dangerous player when she grows up. Obviously she had some silly errors, I think with experience she’ll clean that up.”

‘HEADLESS CHICKEN’

Svitolina clearly knows what to expect when she faces her young compatriot on Friday.

“I little bit watched her first round,” said the world number four after coming through a three-set battle against Katerina Siniakova.

“You know, she has nothing to lose, she goes just for everything. You know, a little bit like a headless chicken.”

The youngster is managed by former player Ivan Ljubicic, Roger Federer’s coach, and said she was pleased to have such experience in her corner.

“He is always helping me, telling me what was wrong, even when I win,” she said laughing. “I am lucky to have his experience.”

And long hours of practice, she said, was the key to her success.

“Well, I heard a lot of times that I’m talented, and I know that,” she told reporters with all the swagger of confident youth.

“But I know that only talent will not help me to play good. So I can say that I’m working pretty hard.”

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