Things starting to cook
Williams sisters, Murray add sizzle
MELBOURNE - Andy Murray's first win at Rod Laver Arena lasted only 45 minutes. Lucky him.
With the temperature touching 104 degrees in Melbourne today, Serena Williams wanted her first-round match at the Australian Open to be over just as quickly.
The second-seeded Williams, who has an alternate year pattern of titles here since 2003, posted a 6-3, 6-2 win over China's Yuan Meng in 75 minutes in the following match on center court.
"Ooh! It's a little hot out here," Williams said.
Shortly after, Venus Williams advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Angelique Kerber, coming from 3-1 down in the second set to win five straight games and the match.
Fernando Gonzalez of Chile ended local favorite Lleyton Hewitt's 13th Australian Open in the first round.
Gonzalez, seeded 13th and runner-up here to Roger Federer in 2007, won the 3-hour, 7-minute match 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Murray only needed to play 12 games to advance - Andrei Pavel retired with a back problem when he was down, 6-2, 3-1, and 15-0.
When they walked off, the temperature was hovering at 99.
In addition to the heat, the early afternoon sun was nearly blinding at one end of the court.
Serena let several service tosses drop during one game before shortening her motion, costing her some speed.
When a passing cloud brought brief relief, a fan shouted, "Close the roof!" A swirling, gusty wind added unpredictability, and a flurry of moths annoyed the players and sent staffers scurrying to sweep them off the court during changeovers.
Serena, who won the first of her nine majors in Melbourne, said she was ready for whatever conditions she encountered.
"I love playing out here, as everyone knows," she said.
Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva beat Germany's Kristina Barrois 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-1, and No. 13 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus also advanced.
Murray is carrying the hopes of a British public looking for its first male Grand Slam champion since 1936.
The 21-year-old Scot, who lost last year's US Open final to Federer, went back out to practice after the sudden finish to his match.
"It's the first time I've ever won a match here," he said. "You don't want to win a match like that."
Murray was installed as the favorite or joint favorite by British bookmakers after beating Federer three times since losing the US Open final.
"I'm aiming to go one better here and I need all the support I can get," he said, noting the number of Scottish flags unfurled around the stadium. "It's nice. Hopefully they'll keep coming throughout the tournament."
Murray defended his Qatar Open title before coming to Melbourne but said it was still difficult getting used to the Australian summer.
"If you have a long point, you can feel your feet burning a little bit," he said.
Federer began his quest for a 14th major to equal Pete Sampras's record with a 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 first-round win over 35th-ranked Andreas Seppi of Italy that finished late last night.
Federer had mononucleosis this time last year and that dogged him for months.
"This year I had much more preparation and I feel I know where my game's at," Federer said.