Australian Open: This heat is not on for Novak Djokovic

Updated: Jan 19, 2018, 12:24 IST | AFP

Novak Djokovic withstands Melbourne's furnace-like situation to overcome Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3; says brutal conditions are dangerous to players

Serbia's Novak Djokovic cools down during his Australian Open match yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Serbia's Novak Djokovic cools down during his Australian Open match yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic says the furnace conditions at the Australian Open were right on the limit as he won a survival of the fittest battle with Gael Monfils to reach the third round yesterday. The six-time champion, playing in his first tournament for six months after an elbow injury, just did enough to carve out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win on baking Rod Laver Arena. Playing conditions were described as brutal as temperatures hovered around 40 Celsius, prompting Djokovic to say a safety limit had been reached for the players.

France's Gael Monfils
France's Gael Monfils

"People might say at this level you have to be as a professional tennis player fit," Djokovic said. "It's the beginning of the season. You work and train hard to be able to sustain these kind of conditions, to be tough. But I think there is a limit, and that is a level of tolerance between being fit and being, I think, in danger in terms of health. It was right at the limit." The extreme elements made it a desperate struggle just to finish the match with Monfils looking the worse for wear early before Djokovic had enough in the tank to win.

"It was brutal conditions and we both suffered, it was a big challenge for both of us," Djokovic said. "Gael is one of the best athletes in our sport but he was not at his best in the second and third sets. It was about just hanging in there and try to use every opportunity."

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