-- MELBOURNE, Australia -- World No. 9 Stan Wawrinka versus 86th-ranked Tennys Sandgren. A three-time Grand Slam winner against the journeyman.
It's no contest, right? Isn't that the truth. The 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 match on Margaret Court Arena took a mere 88 minutes by your winner ...?Sandgren?
Yes, you read that correctly. That's exactly what transpired Thursday night as the American?Sandgren took advantage of a tired-looking Wawrinka,?who was playing only his second match since left knee surgery.
It was the biggest win of?the 26-year-old's career.
"I was really happy just to get my first Grand Slam win, so now I've got a second," Sandgren said on court after the match. "Let's hope I can make it a third."
And he could be optimistic about fulfilling that dream, with world No. 92 Maximilian Marterer awaiting Saturday.?
Playing a major tennis tournament in the middle of Melbourne's brutal summer is fraught with danger, and Thursday, the controversy abounded as the mercury soared.
Temperatures reached a scorching 104 degrees, with the on-court heat magnified.
Gael Monfils was possibly affected the most. After winning the first set against Novak Djokovic at Rod Laver Arena, he battled to stay upright during the second set as the sun turned the stadium into a furnace.
Obviously still struggling, the Frenchman kept fighting but was no match for longtime foe Djokovic, who powered through to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
The win was Djokovic's 15th straight against Monfil. Djokovic becomes the fifth man in the Open era to go 15-0 or better against a single opponent (the others being Roger Federer against three players, Rafael Nadal vs. Richard Gasquet, Ivan Lendl against three opponents and Bjorn Borg against two players).
The victory, though, was overshadowed by the heat wave that engulfed Melbourne Park.
Throughout the afternoon, the official Twitter account of the Australian Open was busy answering fans' questions about the tournament's heat policy. The handle basically copied and pasted the same message: "The health of our players is of paramount concern, but we need to be consistent with the outside courts so some don't get an unfair advantage. The referee will initiate the Extreme Heat Policy once the ambient temperature exceeds 40C & the Wet Bulb index (WBGT) exceeds 32.5C."
Monfils wasn't the only one affected by the heat, with Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza succumbing to blisters and Hsieh Su-wei's game, losing 7-6 (1), 6-4.
"I think the surface of the court, I don't know how much heat, it's terrible, very, very hot, and it's easy to get blister and red," Muguruza said afterward.
The bad news for players and fans alike? Friday's forecast calls for even hotter conditions. Yikes.
It was a good day for Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Aussie champion.
Not only did she beat Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-1 in just over an hour, she also celebrated her birthday -- not that everyone loves turning 30.
Q. You said how much you like playing here. Is it partly because you celebrate your birthday here?
Kerber: Yeah, every year I have the birthday. This is what I enjoy actually. I love Australia. Since I'm here like, I don't know, 15 years ago I came here first time, I get in love with Australia. I love the people. I love the weather and everything here.
Q. Is there a food you like for your birthday?
Kerber: Actually I like a lot of restaurants here. I think maybe we will go somewhere on the beach or something. But I don't know yet. I mean, now I have to finish everything. Then we will decide what we do. There are a lot of restaurants there.
Q. You turn 30. Do you feel like you're entering a sort of second phase of your career?
Kerber: Yeah, getting older. I was waking up this morning, I say, "OK, the '2' is gone right now."
I think, yeah, I'm looking forward to the 30s. Also, you know, I mean, I'm feeling the same like yesterday. I am feeling healthy. I'm still fit. I still enjoy my tennis. I'm not looking too much about the age, just how I'm feeling. I'm still feeling young."
You just can't keep Will Ferrell out of the spotlight at Melbourne Park.
In one of the more hilarious interviews you're ever likely to see, the actor sat down with two-time Aussie Open champion Jim Courier in front of a packed press room, answering everything from the best celebrity tennis player to who should play him in a film.
Here's some of the best bits of the interview:
Jim Courier:?What inspired you to make the trip here to the Australian Open?
Will Ferrell:?I had a lot of frequent-flier miles and I needed to get rid of them.?No, I'm a big tennis fan.
Courier:?You play in charity events with some pros, right? What's your game all about?
Ferrell:?I have a power game, which means I can hit it really hard. Doesn't mean it's going to go in!
Courier:?Who's the best tennis-playing celeb out there?
Ferrell:?Oddly enough, Taylor Swift. She's incredible.?Just making things up here,?Rihanna is really good, too.
Courier:?You have done a ton of sports movies.?Obvious question: When is a tennis movie coming?
Ferrell:?There is nothing in the works right now, but my visit to the Open here may inspire me to make an Australian tennis movie.
Courier:?When they eventually make the movie about Will Ferrell, who will play Will Ferrell?
Ferrell:?Someone devastatingly handsome but they have to be a really good actor, too. Maybe Ryan Gosling?
Courier:?Have you had a chance to explore Melbourne?
Ferrell:?No one is recognizing me, and I'm really upset by that (laughter).?So I have been walking through the streets dressed as many of the characters I have played in films, and people still aren't recognizing me.
Thirty-one Americans made the 2018 Australian Open singles draw, but by the conclusion of the second round, just five remain.
Thirteenth seed Sam Querrey was the first to depart on Day 4. The big-serving Californian entered the Grand Slam as America's great hope on the men's side but ran into a Marton Fucsovics.
However, there was more luck for unheralded 23-year-old Bernarda Pera, who turned in arguably a career-best performance to knock ninth seed Johanna Konta out of the tournament and book her place in the third round.
So who is Pera anyway?
Americans in Round 3: Ryan Harrison, Lauren Davis, Bernarda Pera, Tennys Sandgren, Madison Keys.
Croatian Donna Vekic was irate Thursday because of a screaming baby in the crowd during her 6-4, 6-1 loss to 2016 Aussie Open champ Angelique Kerber.
Not that she got any joy from chair umpire Renaud Lichtenstein, who insisted there was nothing he could do.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Such a situation could not have happened at Wimbledon, for example, as children under the age of 5 aren't permitted in the stands or on the show courts.