Heat Fades, Matches Speed Up

Times Staff Writer

And on the fourth day, the heat wave lifted....

Which meant that the Australian Open became a tennis tournament again, rather than an endurance test fit for a reality show, following three straight days of high temperatures.

Third-seeded Amelie Mauresmo of France was the first beneficiary of the new and improved conditions, needing only 52 minutes to become the first player to reach the women's quarterfinals, defeating No. 16 Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-1, in the fourth round. The 16-year-old Vaidisova was believed to have been suffering from a sore neck.

Their match resulted in one incredible statistic. Mauresmo made only two unforced errors, one in each set, to 34 for Vaidisova.

"I didn't think that it was going to be this kind of score or this kind of a match," Mauresmo said.

It was the same in another fourth-round match. No. 7 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland beat No. 12 Anastasia Myskina of Russia, 6-2, 6-1, in 55 minutes. Myskina had 32 unforced errors to Schnyder's 13.

Second-seeded Kim Clijsters of Belgium had a bit more trouble than Mauresmo and Schnyder but advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over No. 15 Francesca Schiavone of Italy.

In men's fourth-round action, Sebastien Grosjean of France defeated countryman Paul-Henri Mathieu, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, and Nicolas Kiefer of Germany beat Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3. Grosjean and Kiefer will meet in a quarterfinal.

The toughest contest of the day naturally featured the marathon man, No. 12 Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia.

All the hours Hrbaty spent on the court here must have caught up to him as he blew a two-set lead against fifth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia.

Davydenko, who will play either top-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland or Tommy Haas of Germany in the quarterfinals, needed 3 hours 30 minutes to put away Hrbaty, winning, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

Hrbaty also played five-setters in the first, second and third rounds, and played doubles the day after his third-round match.

"I was tired already in the second five-setter, so it was already quite enough," Hrbaty said.

"Like I said yesterday, I would have to be really lucky to win the match. He was more fresh. You could see after the third set he was one step ahead of me."

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