MELBOURNE Jan 15 (Reuters) - Spain's David Ferrer battled his way into third round of the Australian Open with a 7-6(2) 5-7 6-0 6-3 victory over Adrian Mannarino after the Frenchman wilted in the fierce heat on Wednesday.
The world number three specialises in grinding his opponents down with his baseline hustling and that is exactly what happened in his encounter with Mannarino, who made 73 unforced errors over the four sets.
Mannarino looked to be struggling in temperatures in excess of 37 degree Celsius (99 Fahrenheit) during the last two sets on Hisense Arena and Ferrer finished him off in shade over three hours with a forehand winner after a 24-shot rally.
"It's tough to play in these conditions, I tried to fight when I lost the second set because it was a bad moment in my tennis," Ferrer said.
"I'm happy because the last two sets I played good. I want to enjoy this moment and then tomorrow I will be focused on my next opponent."
That opponent will be either another Frenchman in Jeremy Chardy or the unpredictable Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in a section of the draw that was weakened by the defeat of 14th seed Mikhail Youzhny at the hands of Florian Mayer on Wednesday.
Ferrer is third seed at Melbourne Park, after Briton Andy Murray missed the back end of last season, but has rarely been mentioned as a contender despite having twice reached the semi-finals at the year's first grand slam in the last three years. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Patrick Johnston)