2021 in Review: Stefanos Tsitsipas digs deep to oust Thanasi Kokkinakis



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2021 in Review: Stefanos Tsitsipas digs deep to oust Thanasi Kokkinakis

In one of the most entertaining encounters at this year's Australian Open, the 6th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated the Aussie star Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-7, 6-4 in four hours and 32 minutes. Despite playing a five-setter, Tsitsipas had the upper hand and took 22 points more than Kokkinakis.

The Greek fended off all three break chances and secured five breaks from 22 opportunities to move over the top and avoid an early exit. Stefanos had 78 winners and 46 unforced errors, leaving the Aussie on a 58-62 ratio and losing ground a bit following a tight fourth set where he wasted a match point.

Ranked outside the top-200 after missing all the action since September 2019, Thanasi proved his quality again, motivated to give his everything in front of the home crowd. The opening set lasted for over an hour, and it went into a tie break after they erased break points in three different games.

The Aussie saved two set points at 4-5 with service winners and blasted an ace down the T line to level the score at 5-5. They traded mini-breaks at the beginning of the tie break and stayed neck and neck until the 12th point when Stefanos hit a double fault to hand the opener to his opponent.

Stefanos Tsitsipas needed five sets to dismiss Thanasi Kokkinakis in Melbourne.

The second set saw nine comfortable holds on both sides and one loose service game for the Aussie that would cost him dearly. Tsitsipas converted the fifth break opportunity in the third game when Kokkinakis netted a backhand, dropping only five points behind the initial shot in the entire set to take it 6-4.

The former semi-finalist landed only 32% of the first serve in the third set, although that was hardly an obstacle for him, saving one break chance in game two and grabbing three return games for 6-1. Returning at 5-1, Tsitsipas placed a forehand crosscourt winner to seal the set and gather momentum ahead of the fourth.

Servers lost only a couple of points in the first nine games, with an ultimate challenge standing in front of Kokkinakis at 4-5. The Aussie saved a match point with a service winner and claimed the tie break 7-5 with a valiant backhand down the line winner to force a decider and give the crowd something to cheer about.

The better-ranked player stayed focused and continued to serve well, mounting the pressure on the other side. He broke Thanasi at 2-2 following a loose backhand from the Aussie and moved over the top with a service winner in game ten for a massive roar and relief.