TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 19th of January 2015. T.Kokkinakis d. E. Gulbis 5-7, 6-0, 1-6, 7-6, 8-6. An interview with Thanasi Kokkinakis
Q. How do you feel? Mixture of delight and exhaustion, I’m sure.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, a bit of both. Physically I feel pretty good. A lot better than I did last year. Obviously it wasn’t as hot. Played longer against maybe a more experienced opponents. Really happy with how I felt physically. Yeah, I was thrilled with that win. Best win of my career. Had one last week or two weeks ago in Brisbane. And followed it up with a more important win today. I’m happy with how I played today.
Q. Was there a moment early in the fourth set when you thought it was going to be too hard?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: A little bit. I lost my form. I played a really good second set and got on top of him. I knew early games in the third set were important. I didn’t get them and then he ran away with that set. Again, early games in these matches are huge. But I didn’t do a good job of that. So he was up in the fourth I think 2-Love, but I kept making him play balls. He gave me a couple balls I think when I needed them. That gave me a spark again, and the crowd was unbelievable the whole night. They got me through again.
Q. How did you keep just finding a way? You kept finding ways in the big points.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Big serves when I needed to. On the match points, I just trusted my weapons, what I work on every day, what my favorite shots are. I went for a few forehands. Maybe they were a bit lucky, but I would like to think skill. A bit of both. But I needed them and trusted them. There’s no point shying away and pushing, because these good players are going to hit a winner past you anyway.
Q. How important was the time in Dubai practicing with Federer and the fitness side of things?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: It’s very important. Did a lot of training, a lot of hitting there. It was just two weeks there. I did two weeks in Adelaide, a couple weeks in Melbourne. Just the whole base was big for me. I did a lot more running. I knew what I needed to do to play five-set tennis. Went through it last year; wasn’t quite fit enough; found a way to win my first round. But this year I felt physically good, so I’m happy with how my body’s holding up.
Q. Can you talk about the challenge on the serve? Were you saying because it was out you didn’t make a genuine attempt to serve it back?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: I definitely tried to hit it in, but I just hit it on the frame and it went into my side of the court. I probably wouldn’t have won the point or made the return, but I just thought the call came and then he called it as it bounced and then I hit it. It was a complete miss-hit. I’m not going to avoid that. I just thought if you got a racquet on it replay the point, but the referee didn’t think it came before contact.
Q. What kind of thoughts went through your mind when you challenged on the fifth set, the breakpoint, the ball barely caught the line?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: When I hit it I thought it was good, and then he challenged. I was like, Oh, no. Maybe it’s out. They were both putting their fingers up. I was like pretty much really hope this is in, because if not I’m struggling. Didn’t break his serve. One breakpoint. I think he aced me on it. I think I swung and I completely miss-hit it. I really needed that one to go in, and I’m thanking some people for that one.
Q. You had some flashy clothes to match the flashy plays today. Were you inspired at all by Andre Agassi with that outfit?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Nike. They gave me that package. They were like, We only give this to a few. If you’re up for it, wear it. I was like, Yeah, whatever, I’ll do it. I wore the stripes last year, but that was nothing compared to what I wore this year. So I was out there, and I was like surely in this outfit I’ve got to get the win.
Q. Were the shorts comfortable or not?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: It was a bit annoying. I saw it dangling at the bottom there, so I tried to flick it over. No, that felt fine. I prefer shorter shorts. It makes me run easier.
Q. It will probably be on the front pages of the newspapers. Or you don’t care about it?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: It was exciting. I know it was a good win. There’s more to come. I don’t want to win just one round. Obviously it was my best win yet. I’ll enjoy it for the rest of the night, but tomorrow I’ll need to get prepared for the next match two days away against Sam.
Q. Are you going to have a quiet word to Nick about trying to upstage your match?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: I saw him in the changing rooms. We congratulated each other. It’s a good win for both of us. Hopefully we can go further in the draw.
‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10
The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.
It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.
A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.
However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.
Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”
Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.
“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.
Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.
“He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.
Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.
Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days
The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.
The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.
Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.
There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.
“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”
Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.
“Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.
Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.
“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.
Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.
Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win
Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.
“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”
The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.
Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.
This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.
Daniil Medvedev Backs Djokovic’s Refusal To Disclose Vaccination Status
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Diego Schwartzman edges Andy Murray to reach the quarter final in Antwerp
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Wimbledon, Flink: “Djokovic Will Beat Zverev in the Final”
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