With temperatures at Wimbledon reaching a record 35.7 degrees Celsius, five-time champions Serena Williams and Venus Williams, as well as French Open champion Stan Wawrinka and US Open champion Marin Cilic advanced to the third round, while Ana Ivanovic was knocked out of the tournament.
Serena Williams hardly broke sweat in the Wimbledon heat as the world number one cruised into the third round with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Hungary's Timea Babos on Wednesday.
With temperatures reaching a Wimbledon record 35.7 degrees Celsius, five-time champion Williams kept her cool to dispatch world number 93 Babos with 12 aces and 23 winners in just 59 minutes on Centre Court.
The 33-year-old, bidding for a third Grand Slam title of the year, will play Britain's Heather Watson for a place in the last 16.
"I'm definitely playing well, which I never say, but I had two really tough matches straight off the bat so I had to pick up my game," Serena said. "Timea, she plays so well, she has such a huge serve, so I was like 'Oh my God, it's not going to be easy for me.
"I really had no option but to play well so far. But I'd like to believe I have a lot of room to improve."
Williams has swept to Australian and French Open triumphs over the last six months, taking her within two major titles of becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to claim the four top titles in one year. The American great also won the US Open to end 2014 on a high and is heavy favourite to continue that dominant run by taking the Wimbledon title for the sixth time in her illustrious career.
Her failure to make the All England Club quarter-finals for the last two years led Serena to caution against labelling her as a certainty to become the first woman to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back since she achieved the feat in 2002. But, on this evidence, she is approaching peak form at just the right time.
Wawrinka moved seamlessly into the Wimbledon third round on Wednesday, wasting little energy to secure a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 win over Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic in the evening sunshine on Court One. The Swiss clinched victory in an hour and 31 minutes.
The fourth-seeded Swiss has only once reached as far as the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, losing to compatriot Roger Federer last year, and will face Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the third round on Friday.
Estrella Burgos, who had never won back-to-back matches on grass, was broken once at the tail-end of each set.
"He's a tough player," Wawrinka told the BBC. "I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I'm happy to get through in three sets. There are a lot of things I would like to be doing better but it's important to get through."
Cilic survives scare
A double fault by the narrowest of margins allowed Cilic to complete a great escape at Wimbledon on Wednesday as the US Open champion lived to fight another day with a five-set victory over Ricardas Berankis.
The Lithuanian journeyman appeared to be on the verge of pulling off a shock upset when he held two break points at 5-5 in the fifth set. But Croatian Cilic saved the first with a forehand winner and blew out his cheeks in relief when he saw Berankis's forehand drop long on the second.
One game later it was all over as Hawkeye confirmed Berankis's second serve at match point down missed the line by millimetres, allowing Cilic to win 6-3 4-6 7-6(6) 4-6 7-5 and book a third-round clash with American John Isner.
"It was very thrilling and the match was really high quality from both ends and Richard was playing extremely well today," Cilic said after both players were given a standing ovation by the Centre Court crowd.
"He was hitting the ball very well and causing me a lot of trouble. It was a little bit dramatic at the end of the fifth set as I was saving a couple of break points at 5-all. It was thrilling, very thrilling."
Cilic and Berankis had been scheduled to play the third match on the more intimate surroundings of Court Three but after Kei Nishikori's withdrawal, they were switched on to Centre Court.
The duo did not disappoint as they ignored the searing heat -- on what was being called the hottest day ever at the grasscourt major with the mercury soaring to 93 degrees Fahrenheit -- to go toe-to-toe for more than 3-1/2 hours.
No quarter was given by either player and Berankis even threatened to decapitate umpire Mohamed Lahyani late in the fifth set, delivering a bruising body blow as he attempted to return a Cilic thunderbolt.
The ninth seed kept his focus to reach match point when world number 90 Berankis dipped a forehand wide and was a relieved bystander when the next two serves missed their targets.
Ivanovic crashes out
Seventh-seeded Ivanovic crashed out of Wimbledon in the second round on Wednesday, losing 6-3, 6-4 to American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Ivanovic had reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2007 and was the heavy favourite to beat her world ranked 158 opponent.
Mattek-Sands, who has only reached the third round once before, will face Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic for a place in the last 16.
Ivanovic is the third top-10 seed to lose this week. Five of the women's top 12 seeds have already been eliminated.
In other results, South Africa's Kevin Anderson required four sets to get past Turkey's Marsel Ilhan, beating him 6-7 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-4. Anderson will face Germany's Florian Mayer in the third round on Friday.
Five-time champion Venus Williams also advanced to the third round with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. Williams will face Russia's Aleksandra Krunic, who beat Italy's Sara Errani in three sets to advance to the third round.
(With inputs from AFP, AP and Reuters)