Top seed Rafael Nadal made quick work of his 17-year-old opponent, Thanasi Kokkinakis, defeating the Australian favourite 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round in Melbourne. The Spaniard will next face swashbuckling Frenchman Gael Monfils. The Nadal vs Monfils Head to Head stands at 9-2.
The world No. 1 hit 39 winners and broke serve five times in his dominant victory over the budding talent. While Kokkinakis played a relatively strong match, he was simply outclassed by one of the all-time greats of the game.
“He will have the chance to be a great player,” said Nadal. “That’s my feeling. He has everything to do it. He played two junior finals at Grand Slams last year, so he has a great future. He has the right level to try to be on the tour very soon. So just keep working and that will happen.”
The Spaniard missed last year’s Australian Open due to an illness and partially because he was in his final stage of recovery from a career-threatening knee injury. The 27-year-old later took part in one of the greatest comeback season of all time in 2013, where he won 10 ATP Titles including two Grand Slams (Roland Garros and US Open), 5 Masters 1000 titles, and boosted himself back into the top spot in the Emirates ATP rankings.
Nadal, who is after his 14th Grand Slam title, is undefeated with a 7-0 match record in 2014. The Spaniard began his year with a victory at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha before arriving in Melbourne to begin his Grand Slam campaign. Now with two consecutive victories in Melbourne, Nadal is focused on reaching the latter stages of the tournament.
The next obstacle in his path will be Gael Monfils, who will encounter the Spaniard in the third round, after the entertaining crowd favourite defeated American up-and-comer Jack Sock 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-2 in a little over two hours. Monfils managed 13 aces throughout the match and broke serve four times to secure the win.
Of the eleven professional encounters between the two competitors, Monfils has only managed two victories against Rafa, giving Nadal a 2-9 lead in their head-to-head series. Monfils’s last win over the Spaniard was at the 2012 Qatar Open and has since lost to him at that same event this year in the final. While Nadal holds a significant advantage over Monfils, the Frenchman is certainly a crafty veteran and could make it a gruelling effort from Nadal, who may need four sets to reach the fourth round in Melbourne.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Straight Sets