PARIS Top seed Novak Djokovic and third seed Andy Murray slapped down a pair of Australian upstarts at the French Open to reach the last 16 in impressive fashion on Saturday.
Teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios are touted as the next big things and pack plenty of box-office appeal but the gulf between brash raw talent and seasoned grand slam champions was evident in the Paris sunshine.
Djokovic, bidding for his maiden French Open title, hurtled towards a potential quarter-final clash against defending champion Rafa Nadal with an immaculate 6-4 6-4 6-4 defeat of Kokkinakis.
The world number one did not face a solitary break point against the 19-year-old and moved into the second week of the tournament without dropping a set.
Kyrgios, a year older than his compatriot, has already made deep inroads at grand slams and his match-up with Briton Murray had the potential to be firecracker.
There were plenty of sparks and some outrageous winners from the 20-year-old, but for every thunderous forehand there was a crass error as 29th seed Kyrgios, hampered by a sore elbow that took the edge off his serve, flattered to deceive.
Murray was solid throughout, winning 6-4 6-2 6-3, although Kyrgios left one magical memory, running back to retrieve a Muray lob and flicking the ball through his legs and up over the head of his net-rushing opponent — spreading his arms wide to acknowledge the cheers of the crowd.
That was a rare highlight though and he was easily tamed by the no-nonsence Murray.
“You have to expect the unexpected against him,” Murray, who has now won 13 consecutive claycourt matches and faces Frenchman Jeremy Chardy next, told reporters.
“I feel like I have done a good job of kind of weathering the storms, he always has some periods in the matches where he’s on fire and hits some unbelievable shots.”
Ninth seed Marin Cilic continued his low-key progress, the big-serving Croat crushing Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-3 6-2 6-4 to set up a last-16 against David Ferrer or Simone Bolelli.
In the women’s draw fourth seed Petra Kvitova sailed through to the last 16 with an easy victory over Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.
Former champion Francesca Schiavone could not back up her marathon victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round, however, as the 34-year-old Italian veteran, the oldest player left in the singles, fell to Romanian Andreea Mitu 7-5 6-4.
Former runner-up Sara Errani made it through with a 6-3 6-3 defeat of German 10th seed Andrea Petkovic.
Defending men’s champion Nadal is in action later against unseeded Russian Andrey Kuznetsov while women’s top seed Serena Williams and former world number one Victoria Azarenka face-off.
(editing by Justin Palmer)
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