Thanasi Kokkinakis d. Sebastian Ofner 7-6(1), 2-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, 7-6(10-8)

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Nine years have passed since a teenage Thanasi Kokkinakis scored a stunning five-set victory at Australian Open 2015.

His emotional reaction after upsetting world No.13 Ernests Gulbis – which memorably included celebrating with passionate Aussie fans at Court 3 – remains one of the 27-year-old’s favourite memories.

Since then, there’s been heartbreak aplenty both on and off the court at the Melbourne Park. From rehabbing career-threatening injuries to crushing losses and difficult draws that have tested his resolve.

However, the world No.80’s perseverance has finally been rewarded in the opening round at Australian Open 2024.

Kokkinakis’ resilience was on show this evening at John Cain Arena, where he staged an incredible comeback to record a 7-6(1) 2-6 6-7(4) 6-1 7-6(8) victory against world No.37 Sebastian Ofner.

He withstood a barrage of 77 winners from the Austrian, while tallying 43 of his own, to triumph in four hours and 18 minutes.

It snaps a three-match losing streak in Australian Open five-set battles, stretching back to his major breakthrough in 2015, and is Kokkinakis’ first top-50 singles win at the tournament since then too.

“I know it’s a first round, but this one means a lot,” Kokkinakis said.

Kokkinakis’ reward is a second-round showdown with world No.13 Grigor Dimitrov. The in-form Bulgarian is on a six-match winning streak this summer after scooping the Brisbane International title.

“Grigor is a hell of a player. He’s been doing this for a while and he’s in some great form right now, but I back myself,” Kokkinakis said.

“I’ve beaten higher-ranked players before, I’ve lost to lower-ranked players. It’s a number, it’s about coming out on the day and playing my best tennis, so hopefully I can do that.”

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024