Thanasi Kokkinakis proved that there is no place like home after defeating world No. 34 Maxime Cressy in the opening round of the South Australian ATP competition.
The Adelaide native, a winner and semifinalist in the two back-to-back tournaments held here last year delighted at the chance to play once more in front of a cheering crowd by defeating the big American 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (9-7).
In the second set, Kokkinakis overcame a breakdown and a set point to earn a remarkable victory, finishing with an ace.
“I had a wonderful summer here last year, starting in Adelaide and with the (Australian Open) doubles (victory) as the icing on the cake,” he said. “But without a doubt, my best moment will always remain the Adelaide week. I intend to give every game my absolute best effort.
Kokkinakis used his homecoming run as a catapult to revive his stalled career after six years of injuries.
He didn’t quite reach the dizzying heights of a second tournament victory in 2022, but he did settle within the top 100.
And with almost 340 points to protect over the course of the two-week competition in Adelaide, he’ll have to perform at his peak or risk falling rapidly down the standings.
But he had the best possible start on Monday night. He survived a knee issue in the opening set, but he later acknowledged that he needed to take painkillers. He avoided a breakpoint in the first set, though, and used the fans’ support and his massive forehand when necessary to recover in the second.
One of the massive surprises of the 2022 Australian summer was the serve-volleyer Cressy, who rose from outside the top 100 to qualify for the final of ATP tournament in Melbourne and then made it to the round of 16 at Australian Open.
However, things get more challenging for Kokkinakis in Adelaide. There’s a reasonable probability he’ll face world No. 15, Jannik Sinner, in the second round due to a significantly improved field from last year.