Williams, Djokovic beat the heat

"You don't want to spend too much time in the heat," Djokovic said. "You want to try to win as quick as possible. He started to play better as the match progressed … especially in the third set. But I felt like I was serving well and I was in  control. When I needed to use my opportunities when they were presented, I did so."

Djokovic would wrap up the first set in 22 minutes, Williams lagging at 29. And their opponents, like so many early-round victims before them, acted as if they were happy just to be in their presence.

Dolonc, 24, who has earned $790,145 in career prize money and was playing Williams for the first time, smiled and waved to the crowd after failing to equal her best (third round) result in a Grand Slam tournament.

A rousing ovation rewarded Mayer, 26 -- who has earned $1.7 million in singles and doubles and also was bidding for his best Grand Slam result -- when he won his first game at 1-2 in the second set.

Williams, 32, has earned more than $54 million in prize money while Djokovic, 26, has accumulated more than $58 million, including more than $12 million in each of the past three years.

But it is about so much more at this point, of course.

Wednesday, the two tournament favorites were just like everyone else, trying to keep calm and cool in face-melting heat, to slowly build as champions know how to do, toward only one acceptable result.

Neither Williams nor Djokovic are at their peaks, which is scary considering Djokovic had just 11 unforced errors against Mayer and won 82 percent of his first serves and 74 percent of his second with 30 winners, while Williams won 85 percent of her first serves against Dolonc and had 24 winners.

Scarier still is that both feel strongly they have something to prove -- Djokovic trying to regain the aura, if not the actual ranking of the best player in men's tennis; Williams, a five-time champion here playing as if the injuries that hindered her in Melbourne the past two years were a personal insult.

Neither would ever come right out and admit to it, of course, because champions never reveal too much. But asked the best part about being Novak Djokovic, the defending champion divulged far more.

"For me it's important to always know where I come from, be grateful for the life that I have, of course cherish and nurture every moment spent on the court," he said. "Since I was 4 or 5 years old I played this sport, always dreamed of playing on this stage, so I don't take any situation for granted.

"Being aware of all these things is the best of being Novak Djokovic."

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