Thanasi Kokkinakis couldn’t help but break into tears after beating Kwon Soon-woo 6-4 6-1 6-1, claiming his first Australian Open win since 2015.
The 24-year-old has had a turbulent past few years, facing glandular fever and constant muscle injuries. The Greek Australian revealed last year the hard tole that quarantine took on him, yet still managed to hold on and commit his life to tennis.
Kokkinakis played sensationally after over a year of no professional tournament experience. The Greek Australian delivered a hard forearm and used his stamina to out-pace his South Korean opponent, winning six of seven break points. Also landing 19 aces, he defeated the Soon-woo in one hour and 33 minutes.
After claiming the third straight set, with the victory, he was overwhelmed with emotion.
“At 5-0 (in the third set), obviously I didn’t want to think about the finish line, but I thought about it,” he said.
“I felt this massive roar and massive cheer from the crowd and I just started tearing up.
“There’s just so much stuff behind the scenes to get back to that point that not a lot of people realise apart from my team and friends and family.”
Kokkinakis will face Stefanos Tsitsipas, who also won in three straight sets, in the next round of the Australian Open.
“We practiced a few years ago in the past, I’ve met his family… Obviously both being Greek we get along. But yeah it’s going to be exciting,” Kokkinakis said in a press conference following Tsitsipas’ match.
“Hoping there’ll be a big crowd, get rowdy, have some Greek fans and have some Aussie fans, yeah hopefully it’s pretty loose.”
The exact time and location of the match has not yet been revealed.