Thanassi Kokkinakis Cautiously Upbeat Over First Win Since 2015 - UBITENNIS
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Thanassi Kokkinakis Cautiously Upbeat Over First Win Since 2015

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Thanasi Kokkinakis (zimbio.com)

At the age of 21 Thanasi Kokkinakis has already endured more injuries than some players experience throughout their career. It is for this reason why his Tuesday win at the Ricoh Open made headlines across the world.

 

Facing Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny in the first round, the Australian prevailed 6-4, 7-5, after 78 minutes of play. The roller coaster match saw Kokkinakis bounce back from dropping his serve three times as he fired an impressive 16 aces past his rival.

“It was very tough (to close it out),” Kokkinakis said on Tuesday. “I didn’t get off to a great start, but then came back and played pretty well.
“I was up 6-4, 4-2 and serving really well, but I knew it was going to be tough to keep serving that well the whole match.
“He really started playing a lot better at the back end of the second set. I got a bit tighter for sure. I hadn’t served out a match in a long time. It was good to get those nerves out the way.”

622 days have past since Kokkinakis last won a match on the ATP Tour. Once tipped to be a future star in tennis, the Australian has been hampered by numerous injury issues over the past 18 months. First, it was a shoulder problem that needed to be corrected with surgery. Following that he suffered with abdominal problems, a Groin injury, a torn external oblique and a minor elbow problem.

Signs of Kokkinakis’ return to his previous form emerged at the French Open in Paris. Facing Japan’s Kei Nishikori, he took a set off the world No.9 before going out of the tournament. It was Kokkinakis’ first encounter with a top-10 player since Andy Murray in the 2015 Davis Cup.

Things continue to go in the right direction for the 21-year-old ahead of his planned second appearance at Wimbledon, but there is still a way to go.

“It feels great to be competing again, there’s only so long you can practise for. It’s so frustrating being on the practice court for ages,” he said.
“Physically I’m not 100 per cent, still got some things I need to sort out with my body. I’m trying to manage it while I’m playing. That’s the tough part.. I’m trying to get the matches in and that workload into my body.”

Kokkinakis will play Russian world No.65 Daniil Medvedev in the second round of the Rich Open on Thursday.

Five Thanassi Kokkinaki facts

  1. A two-time junior grand slam finalist. At the 2013 Australian Open he lost to compatriot Nick Kyrgios. Later that year he was edged out in the final of the US Open by Borna Coric. At both of those tournaments Kokkinakis was unseeded.
  2. Achieved a ranking best of 69th in June 2015 and has spent a total of nine months ranked inside the top-100 in his career (may 2015 – February 2016).
  3. His biggest title to date occurred in 2015 at the Bordeaux Challenger in France. He had to come through three rounds of qualifying to even make the main draw of the tournament.
  4. At the 2015 French Open Kokkinakis achieved his best grand slam performance yet as a wild card entrant. He produced wins over Nikoloz Basilashvili and Bernard Tomic to reach the third round. He went out in straight sets to Novak Djokovic.
  5.  According to the ATP, his win over Youzhny on Tuesday was only Kokkinakis’ 10th win on the ATP Tour (excluding grand slams).

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Botic Van de Zandschulp beats Joao Sousa to reach the second round in Tel Aviv

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Botic Van de Zandschulp cruised past Joao Sousa 6-2 6-3 to reach the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. Van de Zandschulp won 83% of his first serve points and hit 28 winners to Sousa’s six. 

 

The Dutchman will face Liam Broady, who Serbian wild-card Hamad Medjedovic 7-5 6-3. 

Tomas Martin Etchevery edged past 2021 Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev 6-2 6-7 (0-7) 6-4  scoring the biggest win of his career. 

Arthur Rinderknech came back from one set down to beat Romanian qualifier Marius Copil 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3. Rinderknech set up a second round against third seed Diego Schwartzman. 

Emil Ruusuvuori broke serve five times in his 6-3 6-2 win over J.J Wolf. 

Sebastian Korda beat Turkish qualifier Cem Ilkel 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Maxime Cressy. Novak Djokovic is the top seed of the Tel Aviv tournament, which returns for the first time since 2021.

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Holger Rune reaches the second round at the Sofia Open

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Danish Next Gen rising star Holger Rune edged past Tim Van Rijthoven 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (8-6) to reach the second round at the Sofia Open in his first appearance at this tournament. 

 

Both players went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Rune earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

The second set started with a trade of breaks in the first two games. There was little to separate both players in the next games, which went on serve en route to the tie-break. Rune saved a set point at 5-6 in the tie-break of the second set and won the final three points to close out the second set 8-6. 

Rune won his first title in Munich and reached his maiden Grand Slam quarter final at Roland Garros. 

 “I did not want to go to three sets. I had the break and led 5-2 in the second set tie-break. If it had happened, I was going to fight for sure and try to take it in three, but I am very happy to win in two. I am really working hard every day and trying to improve any small things I can. I think today I stayed very focused all the time. I lost my focus one time on serve, when maybe I should not have been broken, but other than that I am very happy with my first match. The first match is always a  bit difficult”, said Rune. 

Australia’s Alexander Vukic beat Fabio Fognini 7-6 (13-11) 7-5 after 1 hour and 11 minutes. Vukic broke serve in the fifth game to take a 4-2 lead. Fognini converted his fourth break-back point to draw level to 4-4 before saving a break point at 5-5. Fognini went up a 6-3 lead, but he wasted six set points in the tie-break. Vukic closed out the tie-break 13-11 on his third set point. 

Fognini earned a break to take a 2-1 lead. Vukic broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2 in the fourth game. Fognini lost four consecutive points from 4-5 30-0. Vukic earned the decisive break on his first match point to seal the second set 7-5. 

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Dominic Thiem battles past Laslo Djere in three sets in Tel Aviv

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Dominic Thiem came back from one set down to beat Laslo Djere 5-7 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 in 2 hours and 40 minutes reaching the second round at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. 

 

Djere broke serve in the third game to take a 3-1 lead. Thiem broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Djere earned his second break in the 11th game to close out the first set 7-5. 

Thiem broke serve at deuce in the sixth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Djere broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4. Djere earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3. 

Thiem did not face a break point in the third set and converted his fourth break point in the third game to seal the third set 6-4. 

“I did not get off to a great start. I got the break in the second set and I was a bit lucky I could turn the match around. The third set was a real grind. I am vert grateful to everyone who came tonight. It is really nice to play in Israel”, said Thiem.  Roman Safiulin came back from one set down to beat Hugo Grenier 3-6 6-4 6-2 in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Safiulin earned his first ATP Tour win since he beat Mikael Ymer in Belgrade last April.

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