MELBOURNE: Fourth seed Elina Svitolina ended the Australian Open hopes of young teenage pretender Marta Kostyuk on another searing hot day Friday, as organizers defended the tournament heat policy.
Marta Kostyuk, at just 15, was the youngest Melbourne Park third round contestant since “Swiss Miss” Martina Hingis in 1996, and was hailed after her previous win as “the future of tennis.”
But she still has a lot to learn with fellow Ukrainian Svitolina handing out a 6-2, 6-2 lesson.
“She’s definitely got a bright future,” said Svitolina, adding: “It’s very special for me to get past the third round.”
Svitolina will next play another qualifier — big-serving Czech Denisa Allertova who romped past Magda Linette 6-1, 6-4 — for a place in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
In a tournament shorn of seeds, 81st ranked Petra Martic also swept into the round of 16, celebrating her 27th birthday by holding off a gritty challenge from Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum.
The Croat battled a succession of powerful winners from her opponent to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
Her reward is a match against Belgium’s Elise Mertens, who beat struggling Alize Cornet of France in two tough sets.
Cornet was among players wilting in the 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) heat, with a doctor taking her blood pressure early in the second set as she succumbed to the baking weather.
No matches have been called off so far at the opening Grand Slam of the year despite the soaring temperatures, with tournament organizer Craig Tiley defending the decision.
“The policy is from consultation with the players,” he said. “These are professional athletes.
“We are at the end of the day an outdoor event. We want it to stay an outdoor event as long as possible but at the same time ensuring that the health and wellbeing of players is taken care of.”
Organisers will only active the extreme heat policy and halt play or close roofs when the temperature exceeds 40 Celsius and the wet bulb globe temperature index hits 32.5 Celsius.
On Thursday, Novak Djokovic described the conditions as “brutal”, complaining it was hard to breathe and they were “right on the limit.”