Marcos Baghdatis,Thanasi Kokkinakis, Ivo Karlovic, Steve Johnson, and Defending Champion Rajeev Ram to compete in Hall of Fame Tennis Championships
No. 1 Novak Djokovic, seeking the only major he has yet to win defeated young Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Djokovic currently on a 25 match win streak hit 34 winners in the one hour and 49 minute match.
“I think that tennis needs players like Thanasi, who is a teenager, but still able to come out on center court and play with courage and play with power and believe in himself,” Djokovic said. He’s one of this group of three, four young players that are, you know, starting to be more and more consistent and make couple of big wins in their careers and that are obviously expected to do very well from the tennis world. Now, we didn’t have that many young successful players under 20 year olds in last six, seven years, so I think it’s quite refreshing for tennis and it’s pretty good to see that. I thought he served well. He played pretty well. I made the three breaks each set, and that was enough for the win.”
“Great experience for me to play on such a nice court against No. 1 in the world and one of the greatest players of all time,” said the the Australian ranked 84th in the word. “I wasn’t too nervous going into the match. Felt like I served all right. I played all right. Just wasn’t quite enough.”
Next up for Djokovic will be No. 20 Richard Gasquet of France. Gasquet came back against Kevin Anderson 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-4
Third seed Andy Murray remained unbeaten on clay this season reaching the fourth round defeating Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.
“Definitely coming into the tournament, I mean, is the best I have played on clay,” Murray said. “The results would obviously suggest that. Never won a clay court tournament, never been to the final and had many wins against any of the top guys, you know, for a while on the clay. Obviously in Madrid, I managed to do that against Kei (Nishikori), Milos (Raonic), and against Rafa(el Nadal), played some very good matches there. I think winning the tournament and changing my schedule helped a lot. I never played any of the smaller events on the tour, on clay, and getting my first win on clay helped, for sure. I feel that that was a good decision from me and my team there. And then also physically, as well. I gave myself time to get used to the surface, and a surface I struggled with my back for a few years and gave myself a proper training period, built it up slowly, and made a few changes to the way that I preferred for this clay court season. That was, I think, they are the things that I have changed and the things that have helped me.”
“Murray, I think he’s one of the best defenders of the game at the moment,” Kyrios said. “Yeah, obviously matchup is key thing in tennis, but today I wasn’t near 100%. Not to take anything from him. He played unbelievable. I don’t think he served well, but he made a lot of returns and he just does what he does best: that’s make a lot of balls and mix up the game. He was too good.”
Murray with try to reach the quarterfinals when he takes on Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
Jeremy Chardy upset 17th seed David Goffin 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
“He’s so confident, he didn’t lose a match on clay court,” Chardy said about playing Murray. “I play against him in Rome. I play a good match, but still I lost 3 and 3. Yeah, after he beat me, he pull out from Rome to be fresh for Roland Garros, and I think for him it’s a big goal. So it will be a really tough match. In the past we always say Andy doesn’t like to play on clay court, but now I think everybody change and he like more now to play on clay.”
Rafael Nadal won his 69th career match at Roland Garros to move into the round of 16, besting 120th-ranked Andrey Kuznetsov 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 and extending his winning streak at Roland Garros to 38.
The sixth seeded Spaniard will face 22-year-old American Jack Sock next.
On playing Sock in the round of 16, Nadal said: He’s a great player, no? He’s playing fantastic, winning very tough matches against very difficult opponents like (Grigor) Dimitrov, Pablo Carrena (Busta), and today against (Borna) Coric. He has an amazing forehand, good serve, very good serve, and then he’s a player that can play very aggressive and is dangerous, no? I know I have to be very solid. I know I have to play aggressive, try to don’t let him to hit the forehand in positions, because I am going to be in big trouble. I gonna try.”
In a battle of young guns of the ATP World tour, Sock overwhelmed 18-year-old Borna Coric with his forehand with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win.
Coric said: “He just played way too good today. He was serving too big. His forehands were very heavy and I was struggling to cope with that. I couldn’t stay close to the line. You know, yeah, he was just playing too good. I mean, it was maybe the combination that I didn’t play great. That’s for sure. But I think that the first thing was that he played too good.”
“It was a good day for me, for sure,” Sock said. “I was fortunate enough to play great tennis. And, you know, once again, things I was looking to do, serving forehand and dictate a lot of points, like I said yesterday or a couple days ago, I was able to do that very well today. In general, I think he plays pretty far behind the baseline and kind of lets the opponent maneuver the ball a little bit. He’s a great defender, makes a lot of balls, and is very quick. I usually feel pretty good when I’m hitting a lot of forehands, especially from the left side of the court, and able to move the ball around and dictate play. I was able to do that today fortunately.”
Ninth seed and reigning U. S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia had a straight forward 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 23 Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.
The round of 16 is set for the men:
Novak Djokovic vs Richard Gasquet
Rafael Nadal vs Jack Sock
Andy Murray vs Jeremy Chardy
David Ferrer vs Marin Cilic
Kei Nishikori vs Teymuraz Gabashvili
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Tomas Berdych
Stan Wawrinka vs Gilles Simon
Roger Federer vs Gael Monfils
By Alana Mitchelson
(January 16, 2014) MELBOURNE – Rafael Nadal put an end to young hopeful Thanasi Kokkinakis’ Australian Open debut on Thursday night in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, but the 17-year-old Australian has nothing to be ashamed of.
The final score did little to reflect Kokkinakis’ fair game, which was weakened by a somewhat lacking return of service and his less experienced game mentality. This became especially apparent when it came to taking control of critical points or breaking serve to stay in the match.
Even the world No. 1 himself was impressed by Kokkinakis’ form, acknowledging the true potential evolving in this young athlete who is only just beginning to forge his career on the ATP tour.
”When you are a young player, the main goal is to keep improving in all aspects,” Nadal said encouragingly.
“He has a great serve for a 17-year-old… he will be serving better and better every year. He has a good forehand. If he is able to improve with being humble, being around the right people that don’t make you feel like you are a star before the right time, he will have the chance to be a great player. That’s my feeling. He has everything to do it.
“Kokkinakis is one of these ones that can be there in the next couple of years.”
After dominating the first set with curving, top spin loaded forehands, Nadal did allow his game to slip a little in the second which handed Kokkinakis some opportunities to pressure the Spaniard’s serve.
While the Australian lifted his aggression at such times, he faltered at all too crucial moments, as Nadal’s deep drives consistently clipped the chalk at the baseline throughout rally points, the ball ricocheting up into the teenager’s body as he tried to quickly re-adjust his positioning to find range on the ball.
”I thought he played really well early. I mean, if you don’t get it deep to him, he just runs you around the court,” Kokkinakis explained of his experience having played the world No. 1, one of his tennis idols.
“There’s that balance of trying to get it deep. And then if you hit it too short, he’s moving you around. Then you go for too much and that creates errors. That’s why he’s so good.
“I think he was serving something like 75% first serves. It moves a lot. Although it’s not huge power, it’s definitely awkward to return.
”Just physically, he’s a beast. I’ve obviously got a way to go to get that strong and fit… He just does everything well. I was just trying to be aggressive and see where I could kind of create errors and hit winners. These experiences show the level you need to get to.”
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, the Aussie teenager gave the second set his best shot. He made just 15 unforced errors, one less Nadal’s 16, but failed to manage a single break on the Grand Slam champion as the match drew to an abrupt close.
Nadal was happy to have powered through another quick as he progresses into the third round of the Australian Open 2014 and was content with his overall performance.
“I think I played a great first set – not many mistakes, serving well, finishing the set playing aggressive with my forehand.
”The second set I didn’t play as good as I played the first. I stopped a little bit. I played with less intensity. Playing with less intensity equals more mistakes and that’s what happened. It was important that the serve was there during the whole match. And, in my opinion, in the third set I finished the match playing well again, good forehands down the line. That’s given me a lot last year, so it’s the way to keep improving.”
Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.