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Resurgent Kokkinakis Taking Nothing For Granted In Adelaide

  • Posted: Jan 13, 2022

At the start of the year, Thanasi Kokkinakis had only made one ATP Tour semi-final in his injury-riddled career. After advancing to the last four at the Adelaide International 2 on Thursday, the Australian has reached two semi-finals in as many weeks to begin 2022, a positive sign for the 25-year-old.

“Super stoked for the start of the year obviously. Spoke earlier, my goal is to try to stay healthy and give myself a chance. After having a deep run last week, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull up,” Kokkinakis said. “I was in two minds: Do I play this week or go to Melbourne and freshen up, get ready for [the] AO [Australian Open]?

“My thing was I didn’t want to take these tour events for granted. I know how few and far between they were last year. Mentally I was cooked after last week, but if I can get physically to a point where I’m okay to start next week, hopefully with the home crowd and everything, I’ll find it.”

The Australian is not regretting his decision. From 2019 through 2021, Kokkinakis earned just five tour-level wins. Now he has six in less than two weeks. He has a chance to continue his hot streak against former World No. 3 Marin Cilic on Friday.

Most importantly for a player who has dealt with various injuries and illnesses since breaking onto the circuit eight years ago, Kokkinakis is feeling well physically.

“Honestly considering, [I feel] pretty good. Obviously I’m feeling a few things, but nothing serious. Just some niggles from playing. That’s what happens when you play at a high level day in, day out. Nothing serious,” Kokkinakis said. “My sleep’s horrendous. I have trouble with getting to sleep, especially after late matches. My adrenaline is pumping. That’s a tough bit, trying to recover.

“It’s weird. It kind of feels like I’ve played a Grand Slam because it’s been two weeks in the same hotel, same venue. It is like I’m getting déjà vu every day. I’m not used to playing this many matches in two weeks, especially at this level.”

Photo Credit: Sarah Reed/Getty Images
The No. 145 player in the ATP Rankings knew he had a good opportunity on Thursday against countryman Aleksandar Vukic. That paired with the excitement of the Australian Open draw being released added pressure to the moment.

But after letting slip the first set in the tie-break, Kokkinakis gave himself a wakeup call — literally.

“I did slap myself in the face. I have a bit of a headache because I hit myself in the head with my racquet a few times. Probably harder than I should have. I reckon I’m feeling it, to be honest,” Kokkinakis said. “It’s alright. It got me into it. I was able to refocus, play a bit sharper tennis. It’s tough, it was a mindset shift.

“Yesterday I felt like I was playing with house money. If I lose to Isner serving like that, sometimes he can take at racquet out of your hands. If I get to Melbourne, I’m fine. I woke up this morning, and I felt a little bit of a different pressure.”

Kokkinakis will reach his second ATP Tour final (2017 Los Cabos) if he upsets Cilic. But the Australian, who is charging back towards the world’s Top 100, is keeping things in perspective. Pressing too hard for those accomplishments is not always the answer.

“It’s going to take care of itself hopefully. I’m just trying to win the match ahead of me. That’s all I can do,” Kokkinakis said. “That is how I try to bring myself back to it. I am like, ‘Would I try to play this point any different thinking about ranking or am I just going to try to win the point?’

“You have to set small goals for yourself, otherwise it can kind of cripple you. I think I was a victim of that a little bit last year. Through a lot of matches, I was like, ‘I need this win. I want to get back to the [top] hundred so bad. I need to get to these wins.’ I wasn’t able to play to my level.”

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Basilashvili-Murray Rematch Headline Australian Open Matches To Watch

  • Posted: Jan 13, 2022

The Australian Open draw was released on Thursday afternoon in Melbourne. looks at five of the blockbuster first-round showdowns you should watch.

No. 21 Nikoloz Basilashvili vs. Andy Murray
Former World No. 1 Andy Murray just defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 in three hours and 13 minutes two days ago at the Sydney Tennis Classic. It will not take long for Basilashvili to get a shot at revenge.

The big-hitting Georgian will try to earn his first win against Murray in Melbourne, where the Scot is a five-time finalist. Murray leads their ATP Head2Head 2-0, having also triumphed in four sets against Basilashvili at Wimbledon last year.

“Certainly it’s a tough, tough draw. Last night’s match was brutal, so I would expect another difficult one. Conditions in Melbourne are different to here,” Murray said. “There potentially it’s going to be hotter, a little bit livelier, ball bouncing a little bit higher. So it will be a different match because [it is a] different city, different conditions, different court and stuff.

“Just because I won against him yesterday doesn’t mean I get a free pass into the second round. I need to go out and play another top match to win against him in Melbourne.”

No. 7 Matteo Berrettini vs. Brandon Nakashima
One of the most intriguing first-round clashes in Melbourne is a first-time meeting between two of the purest ball-strikers on Tour. The tennis balls will certainly take a beating when Italian star Matteo Berrettini faces 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Brandon Nakashima.

Berrettini had a big year at the majors in 2021, advancing to at least the fourth round at all four and making his first major final at Wimbledon. But Nakashima is a fearless player who if allowed to control points will jump on the opportunity. The American earned wins against Alex de Minaur, John Isner, Milos Raonic and Daniel Evans among others last year, and defeated Fabio Fognini this week in Sydney.

Will Nakashima add Berrettini to his list of conquered opponents Down Under?

Matteo Berrettini
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
No. 12 Cameron Norrie vs. Sebastian Korda
When Cameron Norrie and Sebastian Korda met in the Delray Beach semi-finals at the start of 2021, neither man was in the Top 70 of the ATP Rankings. Now they are both in the Top 40 and set to clash for a spot in the second round of the Australian Open.

Korda won their match in Delray Beach in straight sets to advance to his maiden ATP Tour final, and that was just the beginning of a breakout season that saw him earn a spot in Milan, where he made the championship match (l. to Alcaraz). It was an even better year for Norrie, who claimed his first tour-level title in Los Cabos, his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy at Indian Wells and an alternate spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he played two matches.

Norrie wears his opponents down with his physicality and speed at the back of the court, while Korda takes it to his opponents. The Brit will give his younger opponent time to get on top of points, but will Korda be able to take advantage?

No. 23 Reilly Opelka vs. Kevin Anderson
The first time Reilly Opelka and Kevin Anderson met was in Atlanta in 2016. Opelka was just 18 at the time, while Anderson was a well-established force on the ATP Tour who would later make two major finals. The teen American triumphed in three sets to reach his first ATP Tour quarter-final.

Six years later, this will be just their second clash. This time, however, the roles are reversed, and Opelka will be the favourite.

Anderson is still working his way back from injury, which has him at No. 101 in the ATP Rankings. The South African has shown flashes of his best tennis, winning his seventh ATP Tour title last year in Newport. But he has lacked the consistency that once helped him to a career-high World No. 5.

Opelka, however, has proven himself one of the most dangerous players on Tour with his devastating serve and ever-improving baseline game. The American is into the semi-finals this week in Sydney, where he will play Murray for a place in the final.

Reilly Opelka
Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images
No. 32 Alex de Minaur vs. Lorenzo Musetti
Alex de Minaur loves competing on home soil in Australia, and Lorenzo Musetti enjoys the big stage. That should make for a fun opening-round clash in Melbourne between two of the sport’s rising stars.

De Minaur began his 2022 well with two wins at the ATP Cup against Berrettini and Ugo Humbert, respectively. But he will have to be at his best against Musetti, one of the craftiest young players on Tour.

Although the 19-year-old has struggled for his best form since his hot start to 2021, he has plenty of tools in his arsenal to make for a tricky match. The 2021 Milan competitor has plenty of variety with his one-handed backhand, and he uses many spins and shot speeds to trouble his opponents. Will that be enough to upset the home favourite?

De Minaur, Team Australia
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

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Bolelli/Fognini Book SF Spot In Sydney

  • Posted: Jan 13, 2022

Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini did double duty Thursday as they won two matches at the Sydney Tennis Classic to reach the semi-finals.

Firstly, the Italians upset fifth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 7-6(3), 4-6, 10-6 in two hours, before they won 86 per cent (37/43) of their first-serve points en route to a 7-5, 7-5 quarter-final victory against Fabrice Martin and Jonny O’Mara

Bolelli and Fognini will face Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz in the last four after the sixth seeds moved past Facundo Bagnis of Argentina and Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico 6-4, 6-3 in 68 minutes.

Earlier in the day, second seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah reached the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 7-5 victory against Jiri Vesely and Szymon Walkow. However, the Colombians were unable to follow in the footsteps of Bolelli and Fognini and win two matches in one day, losing to Alexei Popyrin and Matt Reid.

The Australians fired seven aces as they earned a 7-6(4), 3-6, 10-7 victory. They will meet John Peers and Filip Polasek after the third seeds saved two match points in the Match Tie-break at 8/9 and 10/11 against Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi to advance 3-6, 6-3, 14-12 after 84 minutes.

Dodig/Melo Move Through In Adelaide
Second seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo clawed past Santiago Gonzalez and Andres Molteni 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 to book their spot in the semi-finals at the Adelaide International 2.

The Croatian-Brazilian tandem will next play Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski after the third seeds moved past Oscar Otte and Benoit Paire. The German-French pair were forced to retire after 41 minutes when trailing 4-6, 0-1.

Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic defeated fourth seeds Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-2, 6-3, while Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar beat Australians Aaron Addison and Thomas Fancutt 3-6, 7-5, 10-6. Brkic and Cacic will next meet Behar and Escobar.

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Broady Sets Safiullin Clash In Australian Open Qualifying

  • Posted: Jan 13, 2022

Great Britain’s Liam Broady moved to within one win of making his main-draw debut at the Australian Open Thursday, downing American J.J. Wolf 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the final qualifying round in Melbourne.

The World No. 127, who has advanced to the second round at Wimbledon twice, broke Wolf three times to triumph after one hour and 56 minutes.

Broady will next face in-form Russian Roman Safiullin after the World No. 146 continued his strong start to the season with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 one-hour, 33-minute victory over 25-year-old Christopher Eubanks.

Safiullin earned vital singles victories against Arthur Rinderknech and James Duckworth at ATP Cup for Team Russia last week. The 24-year-old reached the second round as a qualifier at the Australian Open in 2021.

World No. 120 Taro Daniel cruised past Gian Marco Moroni 6-3, 6-1 in 77 minutes to book his place in the third qualifying round. The 28-year-old is bidding to make his fifth main draw appearance in Melbourne.

Daniel will next meet Salvatore Caruso after the Italian defeated World No. 236 Juan Pablo Ficovich 7-5, 7-6(5) after two hours and 10 minutes.

In other action, Australian Matthew Ebden beat Dominic Stricker 7-6(2), 6-2, while Norbert Gombos rallied from a break down in the final set, edging Renzo Olivo 6-0, 3-6, 7-6(6). Ebden will meet Gombos next.

Czech Tomas Machac overcame Yuki Bhambri 6-1, 6-3 and next plays Jesper De Jong after the 21-year-old saw off Australian Edward Winter 6-1, 6-2.

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Karatsev Secures SF Berth In Sydney

  • Posted: Jan 13, 2022

Aslan Karatsev’s love affair with Australia continued on Thursday when the top seed overcame Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals at the Sydney Tennis Classic.

The Russian enjoyed a breakthrough run to the last four as a qualifier at the Australian Open last season and produced a strong returning performance against Sonego, breaking five times to advance to his fifth tour-level semi-final in the past year.

The World No. 20, who was voted 2021 Most Improved Player of the Year, triumphed after two hours and 49 minutes in a hard-fought encounter as he improved to 2-0 in the pairs ATPHead2Head series.

Karatsev will next face third seed Daniel Evans or American Maxime Cressy, who reached his first tour-level final at the Melbourne Summer Set last week.


Former World No. 1 Andy Murray moved past David Goffin after the eighth seed was forced to retire having lost the first set 6-2. It is the first time Murray, who saved both break points he faced against Goffin in the 46-minute opener, has reached a tour-level semi-final since Antwerp in 2019.

The Scot went on to win the title in Belgium three years ago, defeating former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the final.

Murray has earned wins against Norway’s Viktor Durasovic and second seed Nikoloz Basilashvili this week and now leads Goffin 7-0 in their ATPHead2Head series.

The wild card will play big-serving American Reilly Opelka in the semi-finals following the fourth seeds 7-6(4), 6-2 victory over #NextGenATP countryman Brandon Nakashima. Opelka fired 17 aces en route to his 83-minute win to improve to 2-6 in his last eight matches against fellow Americans.

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Cilic Continues Title Pursuit In Adelaide

  • Posted: Jan 13, 2022

Marin Cilic continued his impressive start to the season Thursday, moving past American Tommy Paul 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals at the Adelaide International 2.

The fourth seed produced a strong serving performance, firing 14 aces and winning 84 per cent (38/45) of points behind his first delievery to advance after one hour and 56 minutes and improve to 2-0 in their ATPHead2Head series.


The Croatian enjoyed a run to the last four at the Adelaide International 1 last week and will next face Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis as he aims to go one step further at the ATP 250 event. The former World No. 3 has now won four of his five matches in 2022.

Kokkinakis rallied from a set down to claw past countryman Aleksandar Vukic 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and 16 minutes. Kokkinakis also reached the last four in Adelaide last week.

Third-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov, who beat Cilic in Adelaide last week, suffered a surprise defeat against World No. 58 Arthur Rinderknech. The Frenchman overcame Khachanov 7-6(7), 7-5 in one hour and 43 minutes to reach his second tour-level semi-final (Kitzbühel 2021).

Rinderknech broke Khachanov twice en-route to victory and will next play countryman Corentin Moutet after the qualifier downed lucky loser Thiago Monteiro 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 45 minutes. It is the third time the World No. 115 has reached the semi-finals at a tour-level event.

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Djokovic & Nadal Learn Path To Record-Breaking 21st Major

  • Posted: Jan 13, 2022

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have learned their paths to a potential record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title, with both placed in the top half of the draw following Thursday’s release of the Australian Open draw.

Nine-time defending champion and World No. 1 Djokovic will open against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic and could meet American Tommy Paul or a qualifier in the second round. The 34-year-old is seeded to meet Lorenzo Sonego in the third round.

The top seed could face Chile’s Cristian Garin or 11-time tour-level titlist Gael Monfils in the fourth round, with a potential Wimbledon final re-match with Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals.

Sixth seed Nadal, who could meet Djokovic in the semi-finals, has landed in the same quarter as World No. 3 Alexander Zverev and is seeded to meet the German in the quarter-finals. But the Spaniard won’t be looking that far ahead this early in the tournament. He will be focused on a first-round meeting against American Marcos Giron, with a potential second-round clash with in-form Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis. Last year’s semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev or 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz could face the Spaniard in the fourth round.

Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Zverev will open his campaign against countryman Daniel Altmaier as he looks to win his first major and could face 30th seed Lloyd Harris in the third round. Should Zverev advance to the fourth round, he may play big-serving American Reilly Opelka or 14th seed Denis Shapovalov.

In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Daniil Medvedev will be aiming to win his second major, after triumphing at the US Open in September. The Russian opens against Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland, with dynamic Australian Nick Kygrios or a qualifier awaiting in the second round.

The World No. 2 is seeded to meet Ugo Humbert in the third round, Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round and either ninth-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime or countryman Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals.

Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will play Swede Mikael Ymer in the first round and could face last year’s quarter-finalist Grigor Dimitrov in the third round, with a clash against eighth seed Casper Ruud a potential last-eight match.

Interesting first-round matches include 12th seed Cameron Norrie against #NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda. Seventh seed Berrettini will play 20-year-old Brandon Nakashima, while Lorenzo Musetti will take on home favourite Alex de Minaur, who is the 32nd seed. Former World No. 1 Andy Murray opens against 21st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. 

Former Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champions Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner are seeded 31st and 11th and both open against qualifiers.

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