Thanasi Kokkinakis given boost with a wildcard for the Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Thanasi Kokkinakis given boost with a wildcard for the Australian Open

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Kokkinakis has been forced to miss the last two Australian Opens with injury (Zimbio.com)

The 2017 season may not even be over yet, but the Australian Open has announced a recipient of one of their wildcards for next year’s event.

 

The beneficiary of the decision is Thanasi Kokkinakis. The young Aussie barely played in 2016 after suffering a left shoulder injury that eventually required surgery. 2017 has seen the youngster try to make steps to retrieve his ranking of No.80 at the end of the 2015 season.

Despite some promising runs in 2017, including reaching the Los Cabos final, where he defeated Tomas Berdych before losing to Sam Querrey in the title match, Kokkinakis didn’t play too many events. Tough draws at Wimbledon and Roland Garros saw him take sets off both Juan Martin del Potro and Kei Nishikori.

Kokkinakis reaction to the decision: “It’s been tough missing the last two Australian Opens especially because it’s my favourite tournament and I was 17 when I played my first one.

Despite missing the last two, Kokkinakis has some fond memories of matches at Melbourne Park. In 2015 he stunned then 11th seed Ernests Gulbis in a five-set thriller.

Kokkinakis also revealed that Davis Cup Captain Lleyton Hewitt called him personally to inform him of the good news.

Kokkinakis: “It’s been a pretty tough couple of years with my body, but I’ve been working hard to get it right. I’m really grateful to Tennis Australia for the Aussie Open wildcard and can’t wait to get back out there and compete in front of my friends and family.

Tennis Australia’s Performance Director Wally Masur: “Thanasi is such a great young player with so much potential, and after a tough couple of years with injury, and after working hard to come back, we think this will be the perfect launching pad for 2018 that he deserves,

 

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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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