Six-times champion Novak Djokovic survived the Rod Laver Arena furnace to reach the third round of the Australian Open with a 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory over Gael Monfils on Thursday.
With temperatures peaking at 39.9 degrees Celsius and reports of 69 degrees being measured on the court surface, Djokovic recovered from a woeful start to take his record over the unseeded Frenchman to 15-0.
Djokovic, playing his first tournament for six months because of an elbow problem, dropped his opening two service games and although he battled back to break Monfils twice he wavered again as scrappy opener went his opponents’ way.
During the second set it was clear Monfils was struggling to cope with the heat and the Frenchman was doubled up, leaning on his racket, after some especially long rallies.
After Djokovic levelled the match it looked as though Monfils might throw in the towel during a one-sided third set but the 31-year-old offered some late resistance in the fourth.
Fourteenth seed Djokovic broke in the eighth game though but failed to convert his first match point and then faced a break point after losing a rally that left him gasping for air.
Monfils saved two more match points, the second with a superb crosscourt forehand, but Djokovic converted at the fourth attempt with a simple volley.