ATP

Kokkinakis claims maiden title in his hometown at Adelaide International 2

By Sports Desk January 15, 2022

Thanasi Kokkinakis fought back from a set down to beat Arthur Rinderknech and claim a maiden ATP Tour title at the Adelaide International 2 in his hometown.

Kokkinakis was beaten by Gael Monfils in the semi-final of the Adelaide International 1 last weekend, but the 25-year-old got his hands on the trophy on Saturday after a 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 win.

The Australian saved two match points in a semi-final defeat of Marin Cilic and showed his fight again to deny Rinderknech a first title.

Kokkinakis has had a tough time with injuries since rising to a career-high ranking 69 as a teenager in 2015, but he has shown what he is capable of early in the season ahead of the Australian Open.

There were no break point in the first two sets, but Frenchman Rinderknech failed to hold twice in the decider on a special day for Kokkinakis.

Kokkinakis said: "I wouldn't want to win my first title anywhere else. To my family, friends and coaches, what a ride it's been. You have seen me at my lowest lows and now the highest high. It's been a serious journey. For now, I am so happy.

"I've been playing and practising on this court since I was eight or nine years old, coming here before school every day. I love this court so much."

Kokkinakis will play qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of his home grand slam next week, while Rinderknech takes on Alexei Popyrin at Melbourne Park.

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    The 19-year-old US Open champion was badly affected by a blister on her right hand as she slid to a 6-4 4-6 6-3 defeat on Margaret Court Arena.

    Raducanu made a strong start in the opening set before the pain began to kick in, and she said she won the second set "with basically one shot" after being unable to consistently club heavy ground strokes.

    But Raducanu could not maintain that level into the decider, suffering her first grand slam defeat in a completed match, having previously pulled out injured during a Wimbledon fourth-round clash with Ajla Tomljanovic before streaking to a sensational first major in New York.

    Raducanu did not specify who exactly had suggested she ought not take to the court, but said: "There were some people in my team that maybe didn't want me to play."

    A recent case of COVID-19 interrupted Raducanu's preparation for her first major since teaming up with new coach Torben Beltz.

    "Because of 21 days, no tennis, my hands got pretty soft," Raducanu said.

    She explained blisters had begun to form on her hand in training soon after arriving in Australia, with the current problem – "right in the crease" – having been affecting her since just prior to the Australian Open beginning.

    The problem has been getting worse rather than better and Raducanu said the blister had become "pretty deep".

    "It's a bit annoying," she said, "because I know it's something that will heal in a few days. It's just unfortunate timing. I have had blisters before but never this bad. It's quite deep, and it's just in a very awkward position that is so difficult to tape."

    She said every shot was taking a toll on the blister, with the friction meaning each impact was "very painful".

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    In the end, world number 98 Kovinic found ways to overcome a hampered opponent, setting up a daunting third-round clash with Simona Halep.

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    Medvedev hit 31 aces against Kyrgios – the highest tally in a single grand slam main draw match – en route to reaching the third round in Melbourne for a fourth straight time.

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    World number 98 Kovinic beat the US Open champion 6-4 4-6 6-3 on Margaret Court Arena to become the first player representing Montenegro to reach the third round of a grand slam.

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