Nadal praises Kokkinakis' potential

Friday, January 17, 2014 /by
AP Photo
AP Photo

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has high praise for 17-year-old Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, whom he defeated 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in the Australian Open second round. Kokkinakis reached the Australian Open and the U.S. Open junior finals last year.

“There is now new generation that should come," Nadal said. "Kokkinakis is one of these ones that can be there in the next couple of years. [It] is normal that new players are coming, new generations are arriving. That's happened in all the parts of the history of our sport. Strange for the last few years didn't happen, so that's something really normal that should happen and probably will happen and that's good for the game.”

The Spaniard added that the most important thing for the Greek-Australian to do is to improve at all levels.

“But is true he has a great serve to be 17,” Nadal said. “The normal thing is he will be serving better and better every year. Forehand, he has a good forehand. The normal thing is if he is able to improve with being humble, being with the right people around that don't make you feel you are a star before the right time. So he will have the chance to be a great player. He has everything to do it."

Nadal recalled a couple of the matches he played as a teenager, including a Davis Cup tie, a match against Roger Federer in Miami, and another against David Ferrer in Stuttgart. 

“When you are 16, I started at 17, everything is to win,” he said. “You go on court and everything is new. If you lose in first round, you keep working. If you lose in quarterfinals, is a great result. If you lose in semifinals, fantastic tournament. Everything is to win. Mentally is easier to play when you are younger, but at the same time, important thing is have the chance to be the mental part very fresh, to analyze that you need to keep improving.”

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