Ice and shade were Sharapova's best friends during her scorching hot second-round match.
The No. 3 seed survived a grueling three-set affair against Italy's Karin Knapp, winning 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 in their second-round match in 3 hours, 27 minutes under brutally hot conditions. Sharapova won the first set and looked to be on the way to victory before Knapp stormed back. The Russian had three match points at 4-5 in the final set but lost them all, and the match wore on.
With the match tied 5-5 in the third set, tournament officials announced the roof over Rod Laver Arena would be closed -- for the next match. Play on most other courts was also suspended while Sharapova and Knapp played on in the sweltering heat. Sharapova, playing her second tournament back from extended time off for a right shoulder injury, wore ice vests in every changeover after the third game, draped ice bags over her shoulders and poured water over her head. "It's tough for both of us. We fought as hard as we could," Sharapova said. "She played some of the best tennis I've seen her play."
Some matches have been suspended at the Australian Open after temperatures reached 42C (108F).
Organisers implemented the Extreme Heat Policy and stopped matches on the outer courts at the end of sets that were in progress. Matches on the show courts are continuing, with the retractable roofs to be closed at the completion of ongoing sets. Temperatures are forecast to reach 44C (111F) at Melbourne Park.
Dane Caroline Wozniacki survived a surreal encounter with American Christina McHale to record a 6-0 1-6 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday and move into the Australian Open third round.
The 23-year-old former world number one had raced through the first set in 28 minutes under the closed roof due to extreme heat only for her game to implode as the 21-year-old McHale attacked her forehand and forced her into errors.
Just as easily as Wozniacki had won the first set, McHale won the second set in 31 minutes to send it into a decider before the 10th seed took a short break between sets. The break appeared to settle her down and her high standard of play returned in the final set as she broke McHale twice to clinch victory in 103 minutes and set up a third round clash with Spain's Garbine Muguruza.