It did not take long for a heartwarming story to come to the forefront during the 2022 ATP Tour season.
Thanasi Kokkinakis, whose career has been riddled by injury and illness, won his first tour-level title on Saturday at the Adelaide International 2. The 25-year-old Australian was visibly emotional within moments of clinching the championship.
“When I’m having good wins, playing in front of a packed house, it reminds you why you keep doing it, why you get up in the morning, do the training sessions, spend countless hours rehabbing what look like injuries you may never come back from. It just makes it all worth it,” Kokkinakis said. “In front of mum and dad, then seeing the tears in their eyes when I went to hug them after the match, they’re the moments you live for.
“Who knows, not a lot of people get the opportunity to win a title. For me to do it at home kind of in my comeback, I just started to play again, I hope this is just the beginning for me.”
In the aftermath of his big win, Kokkinakis has received plenty of support from his colleagues. Later in the evening, Kokkinakis revealed on Instagram that he had received a message from former World No. 1 Roger Federer.
“Maiden title at home big fella, love the sound of that Thanaser. Amazing… keep going,” Federer wrote.
One of the biggest wins of Kokkinakis’ career came against Federer in Miami in 2018. Then World No. 175, he became the lowest-ranked player to defeat a World No. 1 in 15 years. The Swiss was happy to compliment the Aussie.
“He’s a cool guy, a cool demeanour. I know him well. He’s been to Dubai to practice with me a couple of times,” Federer said at the time. “We have worked very hard together. I’ve always liked his game.”
Kokkinakis’ longtime friend, countryman Nick Kyrgios, was also quick to celebrate the victory.
“I’m so proud [especially with] everything you’ve been through my lil bro,” Kyrgios wrote in an Instagram story that featured an old photo of the pair together.
“Congrats!! Great to see you holding that trophy,” tweeted WTA legend Kim Clijsters.
Congrats !! Great to see you holding that trophy ??
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) January 15, 2022
It has been a long journey for Kokkinakis. Entering the season, he had made just one ATP Tour semi-final. Not only did he reach another last week in Adelaide, but he followed it up with his dream performance at the same venue this week.
It was not easy to get to this point, which wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott alluded to on social media.
“Seriously behind the scenes, the absolute mountain of work this dude has put in has been incredible to watch. And more importantly is a ripping bloke,” Alcott tweeted. “You bloody deserve this brother!”
Seriously behind the scenes, the absolute mountain of work this dude has put in has been incredible to watch. And more importantly is a ripping bloke. You bloody deserve this brother! #kokkinakis @TKokkinakis pic.twitter.com/beM0IUgSxe
— Dylan Alcott (@DylanAlcott) January 15, 2022
Other stars who congratulated Kokkinakis on social media include Mark Philippoussis, Janko Tipsarevic, John Isner, Jeremy Chardy and Daria Saville (nee Gavrilova).
Kokkinakis will now prepare for his first-round match at the Australian Open against German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann.