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Nadal Ends Kokkinakis Challenge; Raonic, Dimitrov To Clash

Melbourne, Australia

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal was too strong for Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal ended home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis’ run at the Australian Open on Thursday, defeating the 17 year old 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round.

World No. 570 Kokkinakis had recorded his first Grand Slam victory when he beat Igor Sijsling in the first round and showed glimpses of his potential on Rod Laver Arena against 2009 Melbourne champion Nadal. 

"He will have the chance to be a great player," said Nadal, after hitting 39 winners and breaking serve five times. "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."

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Kokkinakis added, “Physically I think is probably the biggest thing that needs to improve. That's pretty much the thing I see. Just physically he's a beast. I've obviously got a ways to go to get that strong and fit.”

The 27-year-old Nadal is chasing his 14th Grand Slam title in Melbourne. The left-hander came in on the back of winning his 61st tour-level title at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha (d. Monfils).

Nadal will face Gael Monfils again in the third round, after the Frenchman defeated Jack Sock 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-2 in just over two hours. Monfils fired 13 aces and broke serve four times from 11 opportunities. The 27 year old trails Nadal 2-9 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with his last win coming two years ago in the Doha semi-finals.

Two of the ATP World Tour’s young guns will face off in the third round after Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov both recorded straight-sets wins. Both matches were suspended until 6pm due to the Extreme Heat Policy, and then interrupted by a thunderstorm, before Raonic defeated Victor Hanescu 7-6(9), 6-4, 6-4 and Dimitrov beat Yen-Hsun Lu 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(11).

"It was a day with a lot of different adversities," said Raonic. "It was okay. It wasn't too difficult of a day. I'm just happy I got through it as efficiently as I did."

The pair has met twice before, with Dimitrov winning their most recent clash a year ago at the Brisbane International. "[It will be] a difficult match," said Raonic. "[He is] very talented, very capable, can do a lot of different things. Sort of have to go out and try to take control as much as I can and try to dictate as much as possible."

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