World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas has made a narrow victory against Greek-Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7 6-4 6-1 6-7 6-4 in what was an intense ‘Battle of the Greeks’.
The match reached an incredible fifth set after Kokkinakis pushed two sets into tie-breakers. Despite having the crowd on his side tonight, Kokkinakis was unlucky to come up short against the highly experienced Greek tennis professional.
Kokkinakis and Tsitsipas arrived at the arena on another scorching Melbourne day, hitting 32 degrees celsius. Tsitsipas came out decked in his regular yellow apparel and Kokkinakis, who made headlines two days ago for winning his match in a K-mart t-shirt, styled a white branded shirt.
Despite Tsitsipas’ overall stronger serve power, taking a few aces early, the two players were quite evenly matched early in the first set.
Kokkinakis was unlucky not to take a break point and capitalise on a few uncharacteristic missed hits from Tsitsipas. Putting some pressure back on Kokkinakis, the Greek almost wrapped up the set early on a 5-4 advantage lead, yet Kokkinakis brought it back to a final two service games, and eventually a tie-breaker.
After an intense tie-breaker game, Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis took the set and put increased pressure on the World No. 5.
Coming into the second set, Tsitsipas managed to break the Australian gain an early game lead. This lead continued on through the set, with Kokkinakis unable to come back and put any real pressure on the Greek. The second set finished 6-4.
Repeating his unfortunate start in the last set, Kokkinakis was again unlucky to give away a break point to Tsitsipas in the opening game. Despite the Greek-Australian still hitting an average serve, Tsitsipas’ return game was on another level in the third set, not wasting reckless points as seen in the last two hours.
Tsitsipas went on to claim two more break points, absolutely dominating the third set 6-1.
The fourth set saw Kokkinakis bounce back and give Tsitsipas some competition for the match. The Australian hit a few aces and pressured the Greek at moments, battling hard to stay alive.
The game reached a sixth deuce as the two players battled with Tsitsipas holding 5-4 lead, looking to finish the match on a break point. The screams of Kokkinakis, however, fuelled the Australian into another game.
In a thrilling tie-break game like no other, the World No. 5 was bested by World No. 267 Thanasi Kokkinakis. A nail biting 10 minutes, Kokkinakis almost blew a four point lead, yet secured the game and set.
The fifth decider set saw neither player give out. The third game reached an incredible eight deuces with Kokkinakis finally taking his service game. Kokkinakis, similar to his Greek-Australian friend Nick Kyrgios, fuelled off the energy from the crowd who rallied behind their Australian competitor.
Kokkinakis was unlucky to give away a crucial break point in the decider set, bringing him into a chase with Tsitsipas.
Kokkinakis was unlucky to not gain a break point against the Greek, losing the set and match.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Tsitsipas said he is glad the match had the presence of such a supportive crowd.
“He has huge potential, he knows it himself… I really enjoyed showing the world some high quality tennis today,” Tsitsipas said.
“I’m very happy to see him back competing at a high level.”