Thanasi Kokkinakis’ career resurgence soared to new heights as the Aussie claimed his first ATP Tour singles title with a decisive victory in his hometown of Adelaide.
The World No. 145 stunned World No. 58 Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech in a fiercely contested contest, ultimately taking the winner 6-7 (6) 7-6 (5) 6-3.
After the pair traded tiebreak victories in the first two sets, Kokkinakis finally claimed the first break of the match in the first game of the decider.
He never looked back, breaking his opponent again before clinging to a historic win and breaking down in tears.
“I wouldn’t want to win my first title anywhere else,” he told the crowd.
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Kokkinakis, 25, burst onto the scene in 2014 and 2015, reaching No. 69 in the world in the last year. But recurring injuries cruelled his promising rise, as he reached just one final at the ATP Tour level in 2017. Since then, more serious injuries have seen him achieve just five wins at the tour level between 2019 and the end of 2021, seeing his rating drop. to 171 in the world.
His hell of injuries includes injuries to his shoulder, pectoral, knee, groin, elbow and abdomen, as well as a serious case of glandular fever, while also battling mental illness.
But in the past two weeks, he’s reached the semi-final stage twice: first at the Adelaide International 1, before going even better at the second Adelaide doubleheader tournament.
Kokkinakis saved two match points against former World No. 3 Marin Cilic to book a spot in today’s Adelaide International 2 final in a nearly three-hour 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (10) win. ).
In front of an enthusiastic and parochial crowd, Kokkinakis outplayed his opponent, hitting 18 aces against 15 and never committing a double fault. He did not face a single break point and was unfazed with the match on the line in the second set tie-break.
Kokkinakis has already rocketed from No. 171 in the world to No. 145, a ranking that will launch toward the edge of the top 100 when the rankings are updated on Monday.
The Australian’s attention now turns to his home Grand Slam, with a potential second-round encounter with Rafael Nadal offering Kokkinakis a chance at redemption after being handily beaten by the Spaniard in 2014.
“You guys have seen me at my lowest points and now at my highest points,” an emotional Kokkinakis told his team after sealing victory in the final.