Melbourne – Former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga profited from a rare switch from outdoor to indoor conditions because of severe heat Thursday as he powered into the Australian Open's third round.
With temperatures hitting 42 degrees Celsius, organisers brought the tournament's extreme heat policy into effect after the first set, closing the Hisense Arena roof.
Tenth seed Tsonga, who needed a tiebreaker to win the opening set, proceeded to breeze past Bellucci in straight sets, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, 6-4 and into the last 32 at the Grand Slam.
Tsonga said he was fortunate to have the benefit of indoor conditions, favouring his big serve, for the last two sets of his match with Bellucci.
“I think it was an advantage for me to play in these conditions,” Tsonga said. “It was great for me but not for my opponent.
“He played qualies (qualifying) and he had a tough match two days ago, while I just played one match and that's it. It makes a difference.”
Tsonga broke the Brazilian's service three times, fired 14 aces and only dropped his own serve once in the two-hour, 15-minute match.
The mercurial Frenchman hit 47 winners, while Bellucci's errors outnumbered his winning shots.
“It's always difficult to play a guy who is used to playing from baseline, and after a few games he came to the net every point and tried to win the point in two shots,” Tsonga said.
“It was good for me that he played like this, because it's not his game, and it made it a little bit easier for me to win the match.”
Tsonga came into the Open on the back of a Hopman Cup victory with Alize Cornet over the Polish pair of Agnieszka Radwanska and Grzegorz Panfil in Perth.
Tsonga's ranking has slipped to 10th after an injury-plagued 2013, when knee problems forced him to retire in the second round at Wimbledon and miss the US Open.
The Frenchman, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2008 final, will next face either compatriot and 18th seed Gilles Simon or Croatia's Marin Cilic. – Sapa-AFP