Australian tennis star Thanassi Kokkinakis has spoken out for the first time about dealing with depression throughout his numerous injury-related setbacks.
The 24-year-old has been marred by various physical problems related to his shoulder, groin, pectoral, back, knee and elbow over recent years, as well as contracting glandular fever in 2020. Although at the same time he was also battling something else behind closed doors and even considered retiring from the sport.
Speaking to the Ordineroli Speaking podcast Kokkinakis reveals that he had suffered with anxiety when out in public and bouts of depression over the past five years. Describing what he went through as ‘strange’ as he struggled with his own thought processes.
“Depression was a real thing. I’d walk into cafes and get really bad anxiety and I was, like, ‘I’ve gotta get out of here’,” Kokkinakis said.
“I’d just get really nervous, I could feel my heart racing. Real strange stuff, stuff that I’d never had growing up.
“No positive thoughts ever came in and if they did for a second it would switch back off really quick.”
A former top 10 junior who reached the final of the US Open boy’s tournament, Kokkinakis was tipped to be the next star of Australian tennis along with Nick Kyrgios. In 2016 he peaked at a ranking high of 69th in the world and has won four Challenger tournaments. Although he is currently ranked outside the top 200 after missing the entire 2020 season last year due to both illness and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve had different phrases for it but probably in 2016 it was pretty bad after the shoulder surgery,” he talked about his depression.
“It also got really bad after, I think, 2019 when I played at the Australian Open and tore my pec. I trained for six months building myself back up and then the first tournament back I tore the same thing.’
“I would say 2017, the end of 2016 was when it was really bad.”
One of the strangest aspects for Kokkinakis to deal with was trying to control his emotions. Describing the experience as ‘weird shit’ he said seeing people happy would make him cry for no reason. One particular incident he remembers was when the two-year-old daughter of his coach asked him for a hug.
“I would just be crying in my room for no reason,” he said. “I would get anxiety just going for a walk when there was no one in the vicinity of 100 meters from me. It was weird and I could really explain it.’
“Over time shit changed and I just felt more comfortable and felt fine. Starting going to the gym again, built myself up physically and that helped me.”
Kokkinakis returned to the Tour in January and at the Australian Open he reached the second round where he took world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets before losing. Tsitsipas was the first top 10 player he had played on the Tour since he beat Roger Federer at the 2018 Miami Open.
“I don’t want to sound all doom and gloom here ’cause I’m good now,” Kokkinakis stated.
“But, yeah, it was pretty grim for a while.
“It was strange. You can’t see any positives or you can’t see any good things at the end of the tunnel.
“So I think only people that have gone through that can kind of understand that.
“Even if there’s good things right in front of you, you can’t see that ’cause you’re so locked and consumed into your own thoughts.
“It’s a real dark place and I don’t want anyone to go through it because as bad as the physical pain is the mental pain is way, way worse.”
Borna Coric Still Feels Shoulder Pain Seven Months Into His Comeback
Playing professionally with niggles is never ideal but it is a price the Croat is willing to pay.
The phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ is one that world No.28 Borna Coric can closely relate to.
Exactly 12 months ago Coric was in the middle of a lengthy hiatus from the sport due to a serious right shoulder issue which required him to undergo surgery. He didn’t play a match between March 2021 – March 2022 and previously admitted he contemplated if he would be able to return to the sport again.
Fortunately the 25-year-old was able to resume his career and enjoyed a breakthrough moment during his comeback by winning his first Masters 1000 title at the Western and Southern Open in August. It was at that tournament where he scored three wins over top 10 players. Since then, he suffered a loss to Jenson Brooksby in the second round of the US Open before winning two out of his three matches played at the Davis Cup.
Seeking to break back inside the world’s top 20 for the first time since October 2019, it appears that Coric’s injury woes are behind him. However, things are never as simple as they look.
“I do feel good. I can play tennis and extra training, way more than I was before the surgery,” Coric told reporters earlier this week. “Still I have sometimes a little pain and I need to manage that. But I can play. A little bit of pain, sometimes I think that’s fine.
“I’m not very young anymore so I need to be ready to have some pain sometimes, If that’s what it takes, I’m fine with it.” He added.
Coric is currently playing at the Japan Open where he is the eighth seed in the draw. On Tuesday he began his campaign with a straight sets win over Thanasi Kokkinakis to record his first-ever win in Tokyo.
He will play his second round match on Thursday against Brandon Nakashima, who has Japanese heritage from his father’s side but is playing an ATP event in the country for the first time in his career. Nakashima defeated Shintaro Mochizuki 6-3, 6-2, in his opening match earlier this week.
“The love for tennis here (in Tokyo) is a thing to experience,’ Coric wrote on Instagram.
Coric has won ATP titles in three separate continents but is yet to be triumphant in Asia.
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, A Spanish Dominance
Ubitennis looks at the biggest movers in this week’s ATP Pepperstone rankings.
Let’s start from the title winners of last week.
Marc-Andrea Husler paid a most worthy tribute to the retirement of his fellow countryman Roger Federer by winning the ATP 250 in Sofia and showcasing a style which thrilled all net game lovers. As a result, he soars to his career highest of No. 64. Yoshihito Nishioka tops his excellent second part of season by securing his second career title in Seoul and moving up to No. 41, his best ranking ever. Finally Novak Djokovic consolidated his chances to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin thanks to his win in Tel Aviv.
A few comments:
- Rafael Nadal overtakes Casper Ruud. The two Spaniards are towering over the rest of the pack.
- Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz both gain one position since Jannik Sinner, former title holder in Bulgaria, had to withdraw in the semifinal due to an ankle injury, and failed to defend the points he had earned in 2021 in Sofia.
- Marin Cilic is back in the top 15 players of the world, after reaching the final in Tel Aviv.
NITTO ATP FINALS RACE TO TURIN
Alcaraz, Nadal, Ruud and Tsitsipas are already qualified for the ATP Finals scheduled in Turin from 13 to 20 November; Djokovic is another likely contender in the star-studded event, since, as a Grand Slam winner, he just needs to be ranked in the top 20 in order to qualify.
Six places are yet to be conquered, including the 2 reserves, which means that 9 players will be battling to book their ticket to Turin in the next weeks. 2021 ATP Finals winner Sasha Zverev, still grounded by injury, is not among them.
2500 points are at stake in the upcoming weeks featuring one ATP Masters 1000, two ATP 500 and two ATP 250.
This is the week of the ATP 500 Astana Open in Nur-Sultan and of the Japan Open in Tokyo, which have just kicked off. Alcaraz, Ruud, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Rublev, Hurkacz, Fritz and Djokovic are out for the glory and the points, whereas Sinner and Berrettini are in the pits. Berrettini will be back on the tour the following week in Florence.
INTESA SANPAOLO NEXT GENERATION FINALS
Qualifying for the Next Gen Finals in Milan from 8 to 12 November is going to be a tough battle. Alcaraz and Sinner are likely not to take part in the event and all the other players are so close that anything could happen.
This week seven players in the top 100 are celebrating their career highest.
A double applause for the two winners of Seoul and Sofia: Yoshihito Nishioka and Marc-Andrea Husler.
Article written by By Roberto Ferri for ubitennis.com, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman
The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.
Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired.
The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona.
Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori.
“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”
The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas.
Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33.
“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said.
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”
The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match.
Miomir Kecmanovic saves six match points to beat Daniel Evans in Tokyo
Novak Djokovic Storms Past Van De Zandschulp To Reach Astana Quarters
Billie Jean King Praises Grand Slam Semi-Finalist Nadia Podoroska For Coming Out
Roger Federer’s Legacy Will Be Greater Than Nadal And Djokovic, Says Berdych
Nick Kyrgios Relishing Double Duty And Local Culture At Japan Open
Roger Federer To Make Last-Minute Decision Over Laver Cup Participation, Says Coach
Juan Martin Del Potro Reveals Physical And Mental Trauma From Tennis Retirement
Should Roger Federer Become A Super Coach? Djokovic And Murray Give Their View
Andy Murray Calls For Earlier Start To Davis Cup Ties After Great Britain Loses Late-Night Thriller
Carlos Alcaraz Is Playing At 60% Of His Potential, Says Coach Ferrero
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty ’Satisfied’ With Davis Cup Format Despite Issues
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty Reacts To Federer’s Retirement
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Elena Rybakina’s Wimbledon Win Was Good But The Level Wasn’t Great
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE): Novak Djokovic Battles Past Norrie, Faces Kyrgios In The Final
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Brad Gilbert Makes A Bold prediction on Sinner, Backs Kyrgios To Trouble Nadal
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