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Serena, Murray, Federer advance

MELBOURNE -- With temperatures well in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (100 F), Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka were in no mood to stick around on the searing courts at the Australian Open.

A dancing Azarenka and an ankle-weary Williams played back-to-back matches Thursday on Rod Laver Arena, both easy straight-set victories.

U.S. Open champion Andy Murray also won routinely, beating Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 on Hisense Arena, the second show court at Melbourne Park.

Murray, who ended a 76-year drought by British men in Grand Slam tournaments with his win at Flushing Meadows last year, didn't allow Sousa a single break-point chance.

Despite the high temperatures — it later peaked at 106 F — tournament officials left the retractable roofs on both main arenas open because a combination of factors including humidity and court temperature didn't warrant making the venues a temporary indoor haven from the heat.

Ice vests and towels helped players keep their cool, and a women's tour rule allowing a 10-minute break between sets was invoked late in the day, tournament director Craig Tiley said.

Second-seeded Roger Federer ensured he made the most of a favorable evening draw.

Wearing bright pink shoelaces, Federer advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Russian Nikolay Davydenko on Thursday.

The 17-Grand Slam champion was a winner of sorts before he even stepped out at Rod Laver Arena, having received the luck of the draw — a 7 p.m. start time after the worst of the 41-degree Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) heat had subsided.

"I'm very happy to have played so well against him," Federer said of his 18th win over Davydenko in their 20 matches.

Juan Martin del Potro has defeated Benjamin Becker 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the third round of the Australian Open without dropping a set.

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Switzerland's Roger Federer plays a return during his men's singles match against Russia's Nikolay Davydenko on the fourth day of the Australian Open. (AP/AFP)

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