ORGANISERS lost more than four hours of play on the outer courts when a third day of high temperatures at the Australian Open forced them to enact their "Extreme Heat Policy" today.
In a bizarre turn of events, less than two hours after the resumption, the players were forced off the courts again by lightning and rain.
Play continued on the Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena through both stoppages after the retractable roofs over the main showcourts were closed.
However, Roger Federer embraced the Melbourne heat as he raced into the third round with a 107-minute 6-2 6-1 7-6 demolition of Blaz Kavcic.
Playing under the closed roof of Hisense Arena due to the extreme heat, the Swiss whipped through the first two sets in less than an hour.
The third set was a little closer because of a marked improvement in the Slovenian's serve but the world number 99 could not halt the inevitable as Federer ended the lesson by clinching the tie-break 7-4.
"I'm happy I got through on a hot day like this because it's going to change from the next round on for us now," Federer said of the Melbourne heatwave, which is forecast to come to an end at the weekend.
"It was a good first two sets I thought. I played really aggressive and it worked out."
It was clear from the outset that Federer's aggressive tactics, led by his strong serve and active movement around the net, was well suited to the stifling heat. "I think in these conditions and on the hard courts it's what we want to try to do, especially early in the tournament, without taking stupid chances," he said.
"Of course, I was overly aggressive at times, but I'd rather be that than overly passive.
"I was in command on my serve. That was for me most important – there I'm rock solid."
Rafael Nadal fought off the challenge of teenage Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis to reach the third round, winning 6-2 6-4 6-2.
In the women's competition, Maria Sharapova asked for greater clarity about the extreme heat policy.
The third seed was on court for three hours and 28 minutes on her way to a 6-3 4-6 10-8 victory over Italy's Karin Knapp.
Sharapova said: "There is no way (of) getting around the fact that the conditions were extremely difficult and have been for the last few days.
"It's a tough call. I think the question I have is no one really knows what the limit is. Not the players or the trainers.
"We have never received any emails or warnings about the weather or what to do.
"Actually, I did receive one while I was in the ice bath a few minutes ago, and I was like, 'That's a little too late'."
Dane Caroline Wozniacki survived a rollercoaster encounter with American Christina McHale, going on to record a 6-0 1-6 6-2 victory.