|ESPN.com: Australian Open 2014||[Print without images]|
If Florida married Arizona, they'd have a baby named Melbourne.
Hot, sweaty, icky, nasty, gross.
But that's what you get at the Happy Slam -- gobs of crestfallen competitors who have to fight these torrid conditions. And who can blame them? In three days, with temperatures rising well into triple digits, players have barfed, collapsed, quit and complained.
|Beneath the towel and water is Maria Sharapova. She was hot.|
"The roof on Rod Laver Arena was closed at the end of the match in progress, which was in the third and final set at the time the Extreme Heat Policy came into effect. The roof on Hisense Arena was closed at the end of the set in progress and remained closed until the end of the match."
Play was halted for four hours.
Oh, and if heat and humidity weren't enough, there was also a 1-hour, 50-minute rain delay, starting at about 6:45 p.m. Onsite ESPN researcher Miki Singh, who helped provide these stats, succinctly summed up the day as "fun." We're fairly sure he was feigning any modicum of enthusiasm.
By the time Andy Murray took the court, which wasn't until about 10 p.m. local time, temperatures had dropped to a frosty 86 degrees. It was so cold, in fact, rumor has it that King Federer had to put on his royal robe to keep adequate circulation.
Anyway, in an effort to maintain this theme, here are our Heat Power Rankings through two rounds (FYI, neither LeBron nor Fed's robe made the top five):
1. The Heat
Well, of course. How could you do a Heat Power Rankings and not have the heat at No. 1? On Monday, 93 degrees; Tuesday, 108.5; Wednesday, 111. And on Thursday, it was a wet 110.1 degrees. Agnieszka Radwanska, a straight-sets second-round winner, has a solution to the searing sun. "I think, you know, the ice bath, it's the thing everybody does this week every day," she told reporters afterward. Smart girl, she is.
Heat Power Ranking: 12.4 out of 10. It's wicked hot.
2. The Big Four (Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer)
They've played a combined 24 sets and won a combined 24 sets. According to that stats guru Miki Singh, that's a good winning percentage. Combined, the Big Four have been broken just four times. Three of those breaks came courtesy of Vincent Millot, who, according to another ESPN numbers guy, John Berkok, was up 5-1 in the third set with a set point at 40-30 until Murray reeled off 23 straight points to win his second-round match 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.
Heat Power Ranking: 8.9 out of 10. Murray's lapse hurt the team.
3. Caroline Wozniacki's water bottle
You might have heard the joke, "How do you make holy water? Boil the hell out of it." Well, for Wozniacki, she didn't have a shot at holy water because her water bottle melted on the court. After her first-round match, she told reporters: "I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath, the plastic, so you knew it was warm." Yeah, warm all right.
Heat Power Ranking: 8.7. That's pretty cool (you know what we mean).
4. Anyone but Juan Martin del Potro
We're now into the fifth year of wondering whether del Potro can duplicate his 2009 US Open run, where he beat Federer in a five-set final. He has the biggest forehand in the game and is just suffocating when he's on. But Thursday, he became the first top-10 casualty. The 6-foot-6 Argentine lost to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5. After a half-decade wait, do we give up on the aspirations we had for delPo?
Heat Power Ranking: 4.6 out of 10. It took 3 hours, 53 minutes to finally quell del Potro.
5. Anyone but Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani
Is Kvitova the female counterpart to del Potro? She's big, powerful and rife with talent. But she simply falls flat at majors. Since winning Wimbledon in 2011, Kvitova has suffered three first-round defeats at Grand Slams. After her loss on opening day in Melbourne, Kvitova said she felt lucky just to win a set. As for Errani, and as we mentioned the other day, six of our 11 experts selected her as their early exit. Six of our 11 experts were spot on. (For the record, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver picked Kvitova, so they are smart, too.) All in all, a bad day for two top-10 players. A good day for the experts.
Heat Power Ranking: 3.2 out of 10. The women's field isn't deep enough for any top-10 player to lose in the first round.