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No. 2 Roger Federer handles heat, cruises at Aussie Open

Tennis - Australian Open - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 18, 2018. Switzerland's Roger Federer shakes hands with Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff after winning their match. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The toughest opponent for top seeds at this year's Australian Open is proving to be the heat.

After a day in which a string of seeded men fell under searing temperatures that reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), it was No. 2 seed Roger Federer who showed he could still stay cool under pressure.

The defending champion's night match was a relative breeze as he dispatched Jan-Lennard Struff in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in a match that ended shortly before midnight -- when the temperature was 20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler. But the 36-year-old, five-time Australian Open winner was coy after the win and did not seem concerned with playing conditions at Melbourne Park, day or night.

"Sure, I'm happy I played at night time," Federer said. "But, like I said on court, I would back myself playing during the daytime also. Used to go to Dubai when it was 45 -- 38 seems almost OK."

Temperatures are expected to cool by the time Federer returns to action in the third round this weekend.

Other top seeds did not handle the heat nearly as well, especially 2014 Aussie champion and No. 9 seed Stan Wawrinka, who fell to American Tennys Sandgren -- ranked No. 97 in the world -- 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. Wawrinka appeared a shell of his normal self in his quickest Aussie Open departure in a decade.

"I only had surgery five months ago," said Wawrinka, playing his first tournament since Wimbledon. "To be that far already, it's more than what we could have expected."

For the American Sandgren, the win was groundbreaking -- his first career victory against a player ranked in the ATP's top 10.

"It's a huge deal for me, and something that if I don't ever get another accomplishment, I can at least hang my hat on this one," said Sandgren, who has earned his first two career major victories in the tournament's initial two rounds.

In other late second-round play, No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev ousted fellow German Peter Gojowczyk in four sets 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. No. 29 seed Richard Gasquet rolled over Lorenzo Sonego in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, and Maximilian Marterer beat Fernando Verdasco in a thriller five-setter 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.

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