Murray enjoys the ultimate perfect day at melting Australian Open
Caroline Wozniacki’s water bottle melted, a ball boy collapsed, Frank Dancevic fainted and Shaui Peng was sick. It is fair to say that the hottest day at the Australian Open since 2009 caused its fair share of storylines.
A combination of the heat and pre-tournament injuries have also brought about eight first-round retirements, with two of these playing directly into the hands of Andy Murray.
While Murray was on and off the court inside 90 minutes when dropping just five games to Go Soeda, two of the biggest threats in his quarter were eliminated.
This already means that should Murray make the fourth round, the highest-ranked player he could face is number 64 Michal Przysiezny.
John Isner won the warm-up hard-court tournament in Auckland and took Murray beyond 40 games at the 2011 US Open in their only Grand Slam meeting.
Isner came into Melbourne with a dodgy ankle and this caused his retirement against Martin Klizan, while Philipp Kohlscreiber didn’t even make it out on court in the first round and was replaced by lucky loser Stephane Robert.
Kohlscreiber beat Murray in their most recent clash.
These developments certainly enhance the value in Murray’s odds of 13/2 to win the Australian Open, especially after he showed no ill effects of his back surgery and the fact that he has reached the final in three of the past four years here.
Up next is little-known Frenchman Vincent Mallot, who required five sets in the extreme heat to scrape past Wayne Odesnik in his Melbourne opener.
Furthermore, as Mallot is left-handed, this should provide nice preparation for a tougher third-round meeting with either Michael Berrer or Feliciano Lopez, who also both happen to be left-handed.
Rafael Nadal is in Murray’s half of the draw and his chances of victory at 3/1 have additionally been boosted by Bernard Tomic’s retirement at the end of the first set of their first-round encounter.