Rafael Nadal will look to ease his way through to round three of the US Open when he faces Thanasi Kokkinakis on Day 4 of the tournament. The Spaniard looks to have a fairly comfortable early part of the tournament with a returning John Isner the toughest opponent he has before the quarter-finals on paper.
Kokkinakis was rated up there with Nick Kyrgios for early parts of his career but injuries have meant that the Aussie’s career has been stop start for long parts. Playing just three tournaments before July this year saw him outside of the top 200 heading into the tournament. It means he has had to play Challenger Tour tennis, slowing his progress in terms of returning to the top 100. He toughed out a four set win against Ilya Ivashka in round one, earning a first main draw slam win since the 2015 French Open.
Nadal ensured lightning was not going to strike twice as he eased past John Millman 6-3 6-2 6-2. He broke five times overall while denying Millman on all three break chances in what was a stress free opener for the Spaniard. “The first match is always a little bit new. Even if I’ve played here many times, the beginnings are not easy. The serve worked well tonight and while my backhand wasn’t as good as it can be, I am very happy.” he said afterwards.
“When you start the tournament, you have difficult opponents in front. You need to go on court and respect every single opponent,” Nadal said, knowing he can’t be complacent even if he is facing opponents everyone expects him to cruise against. The first meeting between the two came at the 2014 Australian Open where Nadal taught a 17 year old Kokkinakis a tennis lesson, winning 6-2 6-4 6-2 on that day. A similar scoreline would be no surprise here with the Aussie unlikely to have much chance of outlasting Nadal.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets