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Tennis: Nadal rolls back the years with win over teen

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

World number one Rafael Nadal rolled into the third round at the Australian Open with a dominant win over 17-year-old home hope Thanasi Kokkinakis on Thursday.

The Spaniard, who missed last year's event through injury, was kept on court for one hour and 53 minutes before winning 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 against the 570th-ranked Australian.

The occasion on Rod Laver Arena brought back memories for Nadal of when he was a 17-year-old and playing Lleyton Hewitt in front of a capacity home crowd.

Nadal lost in straight sets to Hewitt back then but now, 13 Grand Slam titles later, he is rated as one of the all-time greats.

While Kokkinakis was well beaten, the match revived old times for the Spanish top seed, who will now face French 25th seed Gael Monfils in the next round.

"I played two big matches against Lleyton. I lost one in five sets and another one in three," Nadal said. "That was the first time I arrived here and I was 17. So it was a big match."

Nadal, now 27, praised young Kokkinakis as one of a new generation of rising tennis stars.

"He played juniors, two finals on Grand Slams last year, so he has a great future," he said. "He has the right level to try to be on the tour very soon. So just keep working and that will happen.

"There is now a new generation that should come. Kokkinakis is one of these ones that can be there in the next couple of years."

The top seed broke Kokkinakis's serve five times and saved the three break points against him in a routine victory for a player chasing his second Australian crown after winning in Melbourne in 2009.

"I think I played at a very good level. The serve, that is a very important thing here, was working well," Nadal said.

"I played a great first set, not many mistakes, serving well, finishing the set playing aggressive with my forehand. Then I stopped a little bit in the second set and played with less intensity.

"I finished the third set playing well again, good forehands down the line, like I did last year, so it's the way to keep improving."

Nadal, who only played one set in his opening round after another Australian, Bernard Tomic, retired injured, smashed 39 winners, seven aces and dominated with his powerful forehand.

He added that he was "very glad" to play under in indoor conditions after soaring temperatures prompted organisers to close the stadium roof.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140116/tennis-nadal-rolls-back-the-years-win-over-teen