World No.1 Rafael Nadal has ended local teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis’s impressive Australian Open campaign with a straight-sets second-round victory at Melbourne Park.
Nadal joined four-time champion Roger Federer in the last 32 with a 6-2 6-2 6-4 win on another blazing hot day at the season-opening grand slam.
The Spanish top seed advances to a third-round encounter with either 25th seed Gael Monfils, the Frenchman he beat in the Doha final two weeks ago, or American youngster Jack Sock.
Like Nadal, who enjoyed the cooler indoor conditions at Rod Laver Arena, Federer too escaped the brutal heat to comfortably reach the third round for the 15th year in a row.
Playing in relative luxury under a closed roof at Hisense Arena after the extreme heat policy was enforced earlier on Thursday, Federer breezed to a 6-2 6-1 7-6 (7-4) victory over Slovenian Blaz Kavcic.
It was the first time in a decade Federer was forced to play a match outside Rod Laver Arena, but it didn’t bother the Swiss master as he blasted 11 aces and broke Kavcic’s serve six times to advance in less than two hours.
The sixth seed next faces either Spanish 31st seed Fernando Verdasco or Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili on Saturday for a spot in the last 16.
Earlier, seeds Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kei Nishikori took advantage of early starts to advance to the third round of the as baking conditions prompted tournament officials to invoke the extreme heat policy.
Nishikori battled Serb Dusan Lajovic on an outside court to win 6-1 6-1 7-6 (7-3) in under two hours while Tsonga took slightly longer to defeat Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 6-4 on Hisense Arena.
After prevailing in a tight first-set tiebreak, the French No.10 seed’s task became easier as Bellucci appeared to struggle with the heat.
With temperatures above 40 degrees for the entirety of the match, Bellucci cramped up and was unable to chase several balls.
Tsonga thanked the vocal French contingent in the stands after the match, who have cheered him on at each Melbourne Park match since 2009.
As the only man outside the “big four” of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer to have beaten all four in a grand slam, Tsonga’s progression will have higher seeds looking over their shoulders.
Tsonga will play either 18th seed Gilles Simon or Marin Cilic in the third round.
Nishikori’s win came on court six earlier in the day, the Japanese No.16 seed beating the worst of the heat.
Other matches have been postponed due to the heat, including Italian 24th seed Andreas Seppi’s battle with American Donald Young.
Seppi will play a fifth set at the resumption of play, two days after he edged a five-set marathon against Lleyton Hewitt.