Australian Open: Former Grand Slam champion Dominic Thiem dispatched, as temperatures soar at Melbourne

Fifth seed Andrey Rublev has ended the Australian Open campaign of former Grand Slam champion Dominic Thiem in the opening round, overpowering the Austrian 6-3 6-4 6-2 at a sweltering John Cain Arena.

A finalist at Melbourne Park and US Open champion in 2020, Theim is on the comeback trail after a wrist injury and was able to compete only to a certain extent against the power of the rangy Russian.

In a match studded with high-quality rallies between the two baseliners, Rublev broke for a 5-3 lead in the opening set, for 5-4 in the second and, after a huge roar, for 2-1 in the third.

Andrey Rublev embraces Dominic Theim after their match at the Australian Open
Andrey Rublev embraces Dominic Thiem after their match at the Australian Open. Photo credit: Getty Images

Thiem was simply unable to get a foothold in the contest and Rublev, a quarter-finalist at the 2021 Australian Open, served out for the match, after little more than two hours on court.

"We are really good friends and I know he is going through not so easy times," Rublev said of the former world No.3. "I hope he can get back to the level he belongs as fast as possible. 

"It's super hot today, so I'm super happy I was able to win in straight sets and save some energy for the next match.

"The hotter it is, the tougher it is to make the right decisions, the tougher to move. When you start to think the other guy is also feeling the same, it's a bit easier."

Lke all Russian and Belarusian players, Rublev is competing at the tournament without national affiliation, as a result of last year's invasion of Ukraine.

Tennis Australia has banned fans from bringing flags of either nation into the Melbourne Park precinct, after a Russian tricolour was hung on a bush next to a court, where Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl was playing.

Extreme heat

The heat was the other main topic of conversation on the second day of the championships, as temperatures soared towards a forecast high of 36 degrees Celsius.

Play was suspended on the outside courts shortly after 2 pm local time, as the tournament's extreme heat policy came into play.

Top women's seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia spent as little time as possible on Rod Laver Arena in their opening matches at the year's first Grand Slam.

Fifth seed Sabalenka, who opened the year by winning the Adelaide International title without losing a set, kept up her fine form with an emphatic 6-1 6-4 victory over Czech Tereza Martincova.

"It wasn't that easy a match and I'm super happy to start with a win," said the Belarusian. "I need to work on my mindset, not getting upset with every mistake I am making.

"I truly believe that this is the only thing that is missing in my game."

Fourth seed Garcia, who won the WTA Finals last season, was equally convincing with a 6-3 6-0 win over Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov in just over an hour.

Garcia will next face countrywoman and 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, who came from an early break down to beat Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 7-5 6-2.

Italian Martina Trevisan was the first seed to fall on the second day, as the 21st seed went down 6-3 6-2 to Slovakian qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Novak Djokovic will begin his bid for a record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in the final match of the day on Rod Laver Arena.