By Pritha Sarkar
With everyone ‘feeling hot, hot, hot’ at the All England Club on Wednesday, it was little wonder that Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova were eager to escape the Wimbledon furnace as quickly as possible.
Spectators sitting under the searing sun on Wimbledon’s Henman Hill were heard breaking out into the Buster Poindexter anthem that aptly summed up the hottest day of the year in Britain – with the mercury hitting 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34C).
Champion Djokovic was spared the worst of the heat on the partly covered Centre Court as he kept things simple in a 90-minute 6-4 6-2 6-3 second-round demolition job that ended the Wimbledon career of seasoned Finn Jarkko Nieminen.
His opponent in the next round, Australian Bernard Tomic, will be hoping the weather eases for their Friday showdown after complaining it was “too hot”.
“I was starting to get dizzy out there with the heat hitting me… I was very dizzy out there,” Tomic said after beating Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6(3) 6-4 7-6(5).
The blazing sun was the least of Sharapova’s concerns, however.
“It’s much much warmer in my hometown in Longboat Key, Florida,” the Russian fourth seed said after subduing Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp 6-3 6-1.
What would have concerned her though is her misfiring serves.
The 2004 champion was left red-faced as she fired down three successive double faults to surrender her serve at 4-2 up in the first set but survived that blip to win the eight of the next nine games.
Court Two also hosted the other half of tennis’ golden couple with Sharapova’s boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov, the 11th seed, outlasting American Steve Johnson 7-6(8) 6-2 7-6(2).
“Everyone was talking about it’s hot, it’s hot. To me it was just such good weather today,” said the 2014 semi-finalist who will next take on Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
Fifth seed Kei Nishikori spared his battered body further punishment after he pulled out of his second-round match against Santiago Giraldo with a calf strain.
“I was hurting too much,” said the man whose exit will be a huge blow back in his Japanese homeland.
Nishikori was not the only one needing medical attention on day three of the championships as a ball boy had to be wheeled off Court 17 after collapsing during American John Isner’s 6-2 7-6(8) 6-4 win over Australian Matthew Ebden.
“I saw him on the ground. It was a very scary situation,” said Isner. “I’m not a doctor, but it looked like an epileptic seizure. It was very scary. I have heard that he’s doing much better, which is great.”
Milos Raonic was kept on Court One longer than he would have liked by the oldest man in the singles draw.
At 37, Tommy Haas proved that his patched-up body still had the ability to fight it out with the best even when he is under heavy bombardment.
The German snatched the third set but Canadian seventh seed Raonic hurled down 29 aces, including one clocked at 145 miles per hour, to secure a 6-0 6-2 6-7(5) 7-6(4) victory.
Stan Wawrinka moved seamlessly into the third round, wasting little energy to secure a 6-3 6-4 7-5 win over Victor Estrella Burgos in the evening sunshine on Court One.
The French Open champion and winner of two of the last six grand slams strolled off court after a volleyed put-away clinched victory in an hour and 31 minutes.
The fourth-seeded Swiss has only once reached the quarter-final at Wimbledon, losing to compatriot Roger Federer last year, and will face Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the third round on Friday.
US Open champion Marin Cilic meanwhile survived a huge scare, beating Lithuanian journeyman Richard Berankis in five sets, the Croatian coming through 6-3 4-6 7-6(6) 4-6 7-5 to book a date with Isner.
Heather Watson made sure Britain did not suffer a wipeout in the women’s draw as she made it into round three with a 6-4 6-2 win over Slovakia’s former world number five Daniela Hantuchova, while world number one Serena Williams was untroubled in a routine 6-4 6-1 win over Hungary’s Timea Babos.