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Federer and Murray in action as heat rises in Melbourne

Roger Federer of Switzerland wipes his brow during his men's singles match against Benoit Paire of France at the Australian Open tennis tour
Roger Federer of Switzerland wipes his brow during his men's singles match against Benoit Paire of France at the Australian Open tennis tour

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Tournament organizers have spared Roger Federer the worst of Thursday's expected extreme heat when he takes on Russian former world number three Nikolay Davydenko in the second round of the Australian Open.

The temperature is expected to hit 39 degrees Celsius in Melbourne but the Swiss maestro is likely to commence play in the relative cool of the evening in the opening match of the late session at Rod Laver Arena.

Extreme heat is a feature of the year's first grand slam, and the organizers were forced to suspend matches in the 2009 tournament during a period of scorching weather.

Federer, however, could play in air-conditioned comfort under a closed roof against the 40th-ranked Davydenko, should conditions breach the tournament's tolerance threshold.

Andy Murray, six years younger than Federer, will have to sweat it out in the heat as the second match of the day session when he takes on Joao Sousa, a 100th-ranked Portuguese he has never played before.

"I don't know too much about him, but I've seen him play a couple of matches during the clay court season last year in Barcelona," 25-year-old Murray told reporters.

In the women's draw, defending champion Victoria Azarenka and favorite Serena Williams will also play under a scorching sun as the opening two acts at Rod Laver Arena.

Azarenka will play Greece's Eleni Daniilidou before Williams faces Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.

Australia's Bernard Tomic, bearing his country's hopes after ninth seed Sam Stosur was knocked out of the women's tournament, has been given centre court billing for his match against Germany's Daniel Brands in the last match of the day session at Rod Laver Arena.

The much-vaunted 20-year-old will aim to set up a potential third-round match against Federer.

(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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