Tennis fans were left disappointed early this year when young tennis gun Thanasi Kokkinakis announced he would not be participating in the 2020 Australian Open, being sidelined from ‘health concerns’.
In an interview with the AAP, Kokkinakis revealed his shocking health battle with glandular fever and muscle injuries.
Standing 193cm, Kokkinakis’s weight dropped to just 68kg after he was diagnosed with glandular fever and ended up in hospital for a week, having his tonsils and adenoids removed.
It was the latest blow in a cruel series of injuries for the former Australian Davis Cup hero, which has included shoulder, elbow and knee injuries, lingering osteitis pubis, pectoral issues and torn oblique and abdominal muscles.
Throw in lockdown in Melbourne and it’s been an incredibly tough time for the 24-year-old.
“I lost 14 kilos with the glandular fever so I wasn’t in a good spot but I’m just happy to be back playing now and feeling good and hopefully I stay healthy as that’s my only goal,” Kokkinakis told AAP.
“It wasn’t good to see, I looked malnourished. It’s been really tough.
“It’s been tough for everyone, but most people got the first two or three months of the year but it all started for me in December after I did my pre-season.
“I went through a lot of times when I was struggling a bit mentally but first and foremost I was just trying to get healthy.”
Kokkinakis started to feel good in April but was again forced off court when Melbourne went into lockdown.
As hard as that was, the South Australian said COVID-19 was an unlikely blessing, as he couldn’t push his training.
“I didn’t want to go overseas as I thought I’d have a weak immune system coming from sickness so I didn’t want to risk catching anything so I’ve just hustled it out in Melbourne,” he said.
Kokkinakis returned to the tennis scene with a 6-1 6-0 win over Jai Corbett in the UTR Pro Tennis Series event in Melbourne which started Monday. The event took place fourteen months after his last competitive match.
Kokkinakis said to AAP that he lost an estimated 30 months of his short career.
“I’m just training and trying to get back the few years I’ve missed,” he said.
“I couldn’t care if I play in the smallest backyard … it’s good getting the juices flowing and getting competition back and I’m hoping things will turn.”