MELBOURNE: Three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer battled through intense heat to reach the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
Second seed Djokovic step-ped it up from his mixed first-round performπance to ease past Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-0, 6-4, 6-4 for his 23rd straight win at the Open.
Third seed Ferrer, who lost in last year’s semi-final to Djokovic, needed just over three hours to overcome Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, winning 7-6 (7/2), 5-7, 6-0, 6-3 on Hisense Arena.
Djokovic may have retired with heat distress in Melbourne four years ago against Andy Roddick, but he handled Wednesday’s 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) temperatures without difficulty.
“As the years go by, I’m more matured as a player, I’ve learned new things in life,” he said.
“Generally it’s much more efficient for me nowadays to recover and to get ready for next point than it used to be 2009 when I retired in my match against Roddick,” he said.
Djokovic, unconquered at Melbourne Park since 2010, is bidding to become only the second man after Australia’s Roy Emerson to win four consecutive Australian Opens and his fifth overall in Melbourne.
It was an improved performance by the Serb after his sloppy first-round effort against Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko on Monday.
He also hit 30 winners to just 11 unforced errors while Mayer made 39 errors.
Djokovic’s next opponent will be Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, who got past Russian 30th seed Dmitry Tursunov in four sets.
Spain’s Ferrer had a tougher workout against the 71st-ranked Mannarino, losing the second set and having his serve broken five times. He made 48 unforced errors to his 32 winners, while the Frenchman committed 73 errors.