Melbourne, Jan 16: Top seed Rafal Nadal breezed past Australia’s 17-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight sets to advance to third round at the Australian Open here Thursday. Nadal’s old rival Roger Federer too progressed in the competition beating Blaz Kavcic.
It took Nadal, the 2009 Open champion, just under two hours to trounce the native wildcard, a junior finalist at the Australian and US Open last year, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
Sixth-seeded 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, 7-6 (4), dispatching Slovakia’s Kavcic.
Nadal will next play 25th seed Gael Monfils, who knocked out American Jack Sock 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-2.
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 encountering strong challenge among top seeds. The third seed had to squeeze her limit to overcome 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 charming plot.
The decisive set lasted for 115 minutes, even longer than most of women’s matches, ending in 10-8 in the Russian’s favour.
“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.
Sharapova next plays French 25th seed Alize Cornet who took out Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, fifth seed, downed Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-0, 7-5.
The organisers 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. local time after a bundle of criticism from players for playing on such extreme conditions. The forecast top for Melbourne Thursday is 44 degrees.
Play on all outside courts were suspended until 6:00 p.m. to resume, but in the center court Rod Laver and Hisense Court, the matches could sustain as the roofs were 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,” said Radwanska.
Former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, the 10th seed, defeated American player Christina McHale 6-0, 1-6, 6-2.