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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Players Wilt as Mercury Rises

APSharapova trying to cool down at a break in her match against Pin at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Tuesday.
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Maria Sharapova squeezed through after coming within two points of losing at the Australian Open on Tuesday when players struggled to last the distance in the sweltering conditions.

The tournament invoked its extreme heat policy but that was of little comfort to Sharapova, who avoided becoming the first women's top seed to go out in the opening round since 1979 by finally overcoming France's Camille Pin 6-3, 4-6, 9-7.

With the on-court temperature exceeding 50 degrees Celsius, all unstarted matches were suspended on the outside courts. But under the rules, players already on court have to play on and finish their matches.

"It's inhuman to play three hours in that kind of heat," said Sharapova, who took a medical timeout following a 10-minute heat break and let a 5-0 lead in the final set slip through her fingers.

"I don't think our bodies were made to do that. When it's that hot your mind doesn't work properly."

Sharapova could scarcely believe the scrap she had been drawn into under the blazing sun as she was left to battle it out for almost three hours.

Trying to keep cool during the changeovers, the Russian wrapped an ice-filled towel around her neck and chest to fend off the punishing heat.

Feeling dazed and confused at 6-6 in the third set, the U.S. Open champion looked completely out of sorts as she plopped down serves and had to be reminded that there was no tiebreak in the decider.

Scenting a famous victory, Pin bounded up and down the court and grabbed a break for a 7-6 lead as Sharapova dropped her serve to love with a double fault.

Pin's lack of experience on the big stage, however, finally caught up with her and Sharapova won the next three games.

"I thought that it would really suck if I lost," Sharapova said. "But I'm not a quitter."

The roof was closed on the Rod Laver Arena under the extreme heat rules following the conclusion of Sharapova's match.

Belgium's Christophe Rochus and Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia became the latest players to drop out because of the extreme conditions.

Rochus withdrew from his match against Sebastien Grosjean with breathing difficulties while Tipsarevic also blamed the heat after he ran out of puff in the final set against eighth-seeded David Nalbandian.

"I was tired from the first point. It's not tennis anymore, it's who is going to last longest in the sun," Tipsarevic said.

Andy Murray played under a closed roof and barely broke a sweat as he just missed out on the first Grand Slam triple bagel since 1993 by crushing Spain's Alberto Martin 6-0, 6-0, 6-1.

Murray was allowed to show his full array of shots, and the hapless Spaniard had no answer. The 15th seed won the first 17 games before the world No. 60 mounted a late show of defiance to steal a solitary game before Murray wrapped up his victory in just 70 minutes at Vodafone Arena.

It would have been the first time such a scoreline had been achieved in any Grand Slam since Spain's Sergi Bruguera crushed Thierry Champion in the 1993 French Open.

Although Murray only struck 19 winners to Martin's 12, he completely dominated from the back of the court and his pinpoint accuracy forced error after error from the frustrated Catalonian.

Asked if he had any sympathy for the bruised ego of his opponent, Murray said: "When you're on the court definitely not. But when you come off obviously you're happy that you won, but I can imagine it's pretty tough to take.

"When you're on the court you just have to concentrate on your game and not let that affect you. I just said: 'Bad luck.'"

Rafael Nadal also had the fortune to play under a closed roof and proved he had done his homework as he blunted American Robert Kendrick's challenge with a 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 win.

The second seed had to claw back from two sets down the last time the duo met, at Wimbledon in 2006, but Tuesday he maintained control throughout.

Home favorite Lleyton Hewitt fought back from two sets down to beat Michael Russell 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

Roared on by the crowd, Hewitt, seeded 19th, started slowly against the American, who raised his game to ease through the first two sets of the late match on Rod Laver Arena.

But former world No. 1 Hewitt dug deep and began to produce his trademark raking groundstrokes to move Russell relentlessly around the court and the former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion clinched victory just after 0100 am local time on his first match point.