Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a huge second round scare against Thanasi Kokkinakis to seal a place in the last 32 of the Australian Open.
The Greek tennis star had to come from behind to edge out the injury-stricken world No.No.267 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-1,6-7(5), 6-4, during what was a marathon clash at Melbourne Park. Tsitsipas, who dropped just four games during his opening match against Gilles Simon, found the going significantly tougher in his latest encounter. Nevertheless, he managed to prevail with the help of 78 winners against 46 errors and managed to break the Australian’s serve five times.
The encounter was only the third competitive match Kokkinakis has played since the 2019 US Open. Since then, the 24-year-old has been sidelined by both injury and the pandemic. He has been blighted by injury throughout his career but has been ranked as high as 69th in the world back in 2015.
“Thanassi is a great competitor and a great fighter. It was very difficult facing him today. He’s a talent who has huge potential. I am pretty sure he knows it himself. He just needs to take advantage of it and make the best of his career,” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“He’s a great server, has all the weapons from the baseline. It was quite a difficult match.”
Tsitsipas’ biggest weapon against Kokkinakis was his serve as he remained unbroken throughout the match. Winning 86% of his first service points. Kokkinakis was also impressive behind serve but his occasional blips enabled the world No.6 to capitalise at times as he broke once in the second set followed by three more times in the third.
Trying to establish a stronghold in the match was a far from easy task for Tsitsipas who was unable to get a look at his opponents serve throughout the majority of the fourth set. Nudging ahead to a 5-4 lead and one game away from victory he elevated his intensity during a marathon Kokkinakis service game but still it wasn’t enough. Tsitsipas’ first match point occurred after a forehand from across the court landed out, however, he was unable to convert as they drew level once again.
Kokkinakis’ resistance eventually frazzled the mind of Tsitsipas who hit a duo of unforced errors during the second tiebreak to hand the Australian a 5-1 lead. Although he did recover to draw level again, the home favourite continued to play some inspired tennis. A serve out wide rewarded the underdog with a set point to force the clash into a decider which he converted after hitting a backhand down the line winner.
The titanic tussle continued into the decider with neither player being prepared to back down. Once again Kokkinakis delighted home fans by coming through another marathon service game which saw him save two break points to move ahead 2-1. However, two games later he was not as fortunate after hitting two consecutive errors to hand Tsitsipas a crucial break. Prompting him to drop his head in disappointment.
Back in the lead once again, Tsitsipas carefully manoeuvred his way to the finish line against a player who last played a five-set match at the 2017 US Open. Continuing to weather the storm he worked his way to match point opportunity number two more than an hour after his first after hitting a serve out wide which Kokkinakis returned into the net. Victory was then sealed with the help of another well placed Tsitsipas serve down the centre of the court which triggered another error.
“I just want to go for an ice bath right now that is all I’m thinking,” the Greek proclaimed after playing for 272 minutes.
Tsitsipas will return to the court in two days to play Mikael Ymer in the third round. The Greek has been billed as one of the future stars of the sport to take over when the reign of the Big Three comes to an end.
“I think we are a great generation of players. There is so much variety and diversity among us so I think we are expected to see some good tennis in the next couple of years and it’s going to make it really interesting,” he said.
“I think it is going to be something more interesting than the top three right now.”
Coincidentally Ymer was a practice partner for Tsitsipas heading into the Grand Slam.
French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur
The Australian explains why he wasn’t entirely happy with the atmosphere in the French capital.
Alex de Minaur didn’t hide his irritation with fans at Roland Garros following his shock exit from the tournament on Tuesday.
The 19th seed fell to home player Hugo Gaston in a five-set epic that lasted more than four hours. De Minaur had a 3-0 lead in the decisive set but ended up losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 0-6, 7-6(10-4) to the world No.74. He has now lost in the first round of the French Open in four out of six appearances.
During the match De Minaur had to contend with a boisterous crowd who were cheering on Gaston. He faced some booing and jeering from those in the stands which the world No.20 was not happy about.
“I think there is a difference between a great atmosphere and supporting your fellow countrymen, which is completely fine and it’s great. I’m sure for him was an amazing atmosphere, he enjoyed every second of it.” De Minaur said afterwards.
“But there is a line that, when I’m getting told things by people in the crowd, making eye contact with me after I hit a double fault, I think there is a certain line that needs to be kind of looked at.”
“Good on him (Gaston) for playing a great match in front of his home crowd and being able to feed off that, and you know, having a moment that I’m sure he won’t forget.”
De Minaur refused to go into what exactly was being said to him from certain members of the crowd but insisted that he was not being intimidated by what was occurring on the court. Towards the end of the match a series of unforced errors, including double faults, costed him dearly.
“I’m pretty sure I dealt with it pretty well, all things considering,” he said. “I was in the moment. I was in the heat of the moment battling out there. It felt like kind of an away Davis Cup match, and I thrive on that. It was a lot sometimes and sometimes you do your best to focus on playing a tennis match. There are outside factors that you do your best to control.“
Heading into Paris, De Minaur had shown encouraging results on the clay with semi-final runs to tournaments in Barcelona and Lyon. He also reached the third round in Rome and took a set off Andrey Rublev when they clashed in Monte Carlo.
Given those recent results on the Tour, it is clear that the latest defeat is one that will sit with him for a while.
“Ideally, I will sleep tonight and I will forget all about it, but I have a feeling that won’t be the case,” de Minaur admits.
“It’s disappointing, as everything is, it is what it is. It’s a sport that we are playing. You have your good days, your bad days. You win absolute battles; you lose absolute battles.”
As for Garon, he will face Argentine qualifier Pedro Cachin in the second round. This year’s draw is a golden opportunity for the Frenchman with him guaranteed to not play a seeded player until at least the last 16 if he makes it that far.
Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal
The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.
By Kingsley Elliot Kaye
In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.
Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.
Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.
“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.
Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.
He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.
Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
Injury-Hit Borna Coric Reacts To First Grand Slam Win In 16 Months
The Croat admits he was unsure how his shoulder would hold up in his opening match at Roland Garros.
Borna Coric said he is relieved that his body managed to hold up during his opening win at the French Open on Sunday.
The former world No.12 spent almost three hours on the court before defeating Spain’s Carlos Taberner 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in what was his first Grand Slam match of any kind since the 2021 Australian Open. Paris is only the seventh tournament Coric has played in since returning to the Tour following a year-long absence due to shoulder surgery. The 25-year-old is yet to win back-to-back matches this season.
“It does feel great. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of my shoulder because I’ve never been in the fourth set, fifth set (of a match) for one-and-a-half years,” said Coric.
“So it was also kind of worrying for me, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how I’m going to feel and how my whole body is going to behave in those later sets. Obviously I’ve been practicing it, but it’s really never the same.”
Impressively the Croat produced a total of 54 winners against 39 unforced errors in his latest match in the French capital. Furthermore, he won 76% of his first service points and 53% of his second.
“The last few weeks haven’t been very easy, I lost many tight matches. I mean, I was also quite happy with my tennis, but I was just losing,” he reflected.
Coric was once tipped to be the future of men’s tennis after rising quickly up the ranks at a young age. In 2014 he was the youngest player to end the season in the top 100 and a year last he was the youngest to do so in the top 50. He has recorded a total of nine wins over top five players, including Roger Federer, as well as winning two Tour titles.
In the second round at Roland Garros Coric will take on the formidable Grigor Dimitrov who has been ranked as high as third in the world. He will enter the clash as the underdog given his ongoing comeback from injury. At present Coric’s principal focus is on his body but that will change in the coming weeks.
“Until Wimbledon my health needs to come first and after Wimbledon I can kind of try to switch in my mind so I can start playing more and more tournaments. I can train more and I can focus more on the tennis rather than on my shoulder,” he explains.
Coric has reached the third round of the French Open on four previous occasions.
French Open Crowd Crossed The Line, Says Frustrated Alex de Minaur
Tsitsipas Fights Back And Sails Through French Open Opener
Roland Garros Daily Preview: A Busy Day of Second Round Action on Wednesday
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