Australian Open R2 previews and picks: Nadal vs. Kokkinakis, Monfils vs. Sock

Rafael Nadal will continue his Australian Open campaign on Thursday against Jack Sock. Gael Monfils and Jack Sock are also in second-round action.

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (WC) Thanasi Kokkinakis

The first Aussie opponent was no match for Nadal. In fact, it was hardly a match at all as Bernard Tomic retired after dropping the first set 6-4 to Nadal on Tuesday night. Now the world No. 1 is set for another up-and-coming home hope in Kokkinakis. The 17-year-old got a wild card into the main draw then defeated a slumping Igor Sijsling 7-6(4), 0-6, 7-6(3), 6-2. It was the first ATP-level match win of Kokkinakis’ young career.

Nadal is looking to craft another unblemished streak on hard courts after winning titles in Montreal, Cincinnati, and at the U.S. Open last summer. The top-seeded Spaniard’s 2014 season is off to a perfect start, as he captured the Doha title prior to arriving in Melbourne. Nadal may not be quite in peak form until the competition heats up later in the event (perhaps against Gael Monfils in the last 32) and Kokkinakis has a big enough serve to win games, but this should still be nothing more than straightforward for the favorite.

Pick: Nadal in 3 losing 11-13 games

Jack Sock vs. (25) Gael Monfils

Monfils will be going up against a 21-year-old American for a second straight round on Thursday. The 32nd-ranked Frenchman was positively dominant on serve in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Ryan Harrison in his opener. He lost a mere 17 points in 15 service games without facing a single break point. A healthy Monfils remains in fine form coming off a runner-up performance in Doha, where he lost to Nadal in a three-set final.

Up next for the No. 25 seed is Sock, whom he has never faced. Sock is also playing stellar tennis at the start of 2014, with a quarterfinal performance in Auckland and a 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 win over Tobias Kamke on Tuesday. The world No. 95 wields a huge serve and forehand, but Monfils is one of the best defensive players on tour and will frustrate the underdog by getting a ton of balls back. It’s hard to see anything stopping a Nadal-Monfils third-round showdown.

Pick: Monfils in 3

9 Comments on Australian Open R2 previews and picks: Nadal vs. Kokkinakis, Monfils vs. Sock

  1. I am in complete agreement with Ricky’s picks this time. Rafa in three and Monfils in three.

    Rafa’s on third tomorrow afternoon? So this will be his first day match. On the hottest day of the tournament. But it will be at an earlier time for me.

    I have not yet seen this kid Kokkinakis. Another big server. Whoopee.

    I just hope for a complete match. Rafa need the match play.

  2. Yes, the heat rule has been invoked. All outside courts had play suspended. Sets have to be completed which is why Sharapova and Knapp were still playing with the roof open. Now the roof will be closed, then Wozniacki/McHale will play. Hisense’s roof has already been closed. Play on the courts with no roof won’t resume until later when the temp comes down.

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