Rafael Nadal at Australian Open third round
Melbourne – Top seed Rafal Nadal breezed past Australia’s 17-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight sets to advance into third round of Australia on Thursday.
It took Nadal, the 2009 Open champion, just under two hours to oust native wildcarder, a junior finalist at the Australian and US Opens last year, in 6-2, 6-4 and 6-2.
Sixth-seeded Roger Federer, who is competing in a record 57th straight grand slam, also cruised through to the last 32 in straight set triumph of 6-2, 6-1 and 7-6 (4), dispatching Slovakian Blaz Kavcic.
Andy Murry, who is the runner up for the last two years, also made it a quick work to reach the next round, dismantling Vincent Millot of France 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.
Nadal will next play 25th seed Gael Monfils, who knocked out American Jack Sock 7-6 (2), 7-5 and 6-2. Federer’s next opponent is Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili, who upset 31th seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in five sets of 7-6(1), 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Other players advanced into third round are 11th-seeded Milos Raonic as the Canadian powered off Romanian Victor Hanescu 7-6(9), 6-4, 6-4;16th-seeded Janpanese Kei Nishikori, who defeated Serbian Dusan Lajovic in straight sets 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (3).
In women’s matches, reigning champion Victoria Azarenka romped past Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1, 6-4 in 88 minutes.
Sharapova was the only one Thursday encountering strong challenge among top seeds. The third seed had to squeeze her limit to surpass Italy’s Karin Knapp in a match that lasted a tick under three-and-a-half hours.
The 2008 Australian Open champion took the first set in a romp, easily winning it 6-3. But the world No. 44 levelled the match at one set apiece when she stormed back in the second.
The Italian broke Sharapova twice, winning the set 6-4, but it was in the final set that the drama unveiled its plot.
The decisive set lasted for 115 minutes, even longer than most of women’s matches, ending in 10-8 in the Russian’s favor.
“I’m really happy to get through. I really am. I worked really hard in the last few months and I wanted this match. I didn’t play my best tennis I didn’t do many things well,” said the Russian, who stayed out match for a couple of months for injury.
Sharapova next plays French 25th seed Alize Cornet who took out Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-3, 4-6 and 6-4.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, fifth seed, downed Olga Govortsova of Belarus in 6-0, 7-5.
The organizers had been forced to implement the “extreme heat policy” due to three consecutive hot days of over 40 degrees Thursday. The announcement was made at 1.52 p.m. after a bundle of criticism from players for playing on such extreme conditions. The forecast top for Melbourne on Thursday is 44 degrees.
Play on all outside courts were suspended until 6:00 to resume, but in the center court Rod Laver and Hisense Court, the matches could sustain as the roofs are closed.
“Today for sure I was lucky to play indoor. I saw a lot of matches in the morning that they were not very lucky than me. Today was really hard. Even indoor was ridiculous,” said the Polish. “Everybody talk about it. We kind of trying to prepare for that weather and doing everything we can to survive those matches.”