The Australian Open 2020 Play-off kicks off next week at the Melbourne Park, with the lower-ranked Australian players fighting for the place in the main draw of the first Major of the season in January. Alex Bolt, Andrew Harris, Max Purcell and Blake Mott lead the men's draw while world no.
200 Thanasi Kokkinakis will not be a part of it, deciding to skip the action and hoping for a direct wild card into the Australian Open field. Back in January, the organizers didn't want to give him a wild card, forcing Thanasi to compete in the qualifying round, passing those three matches before retiring in the first round against Taro Daniel.
The Adelaide native played only nine tournaments in 2019, scoring three ATP wins and advancing into one Challenger final in the last event he played in September in Tiburon. Kokkinakis had to undergo a right shoulder surgery at the end of 2015, playing just one match next season and missing all the action until May 2017, struggling with an abdominal strain that made his comeback even more challenging.
Following a slow return that spring, Kokkinakis made a big step forward after reaching the first ATP final in Los Cabos in August, hoping for more of the same by the end of the year. Nonetheless, things went from bad to worse for the young Aussie who stayed sidelined after the US Open, kicking off 2018 from outside the top-200.
Motivated to leave injuries and a dark period behind him, Kokkinakis defeated Roger Federer in Miami to become the lowest-ranked player who toppled the world no. 1 in 15 years, showing signs of improvement and hoping for more of the same in the upcoming months.
There was no time to enjoy the massive win, though, suffering a knee injury in the opening set of Monte Carlo Masters against Karen Khachanov when he caught an advertising padding and missing all the events until Roland Garros.
By the end of the season, Thanasi claimed titles at Aptos and Las Vegas Challengers to gain points and confidence, preparing for the start of 2019 where nothing changed for better, struggling to stay injury-free or embrace the full calendar.
The Adelaide native is currently ranked 200th, working hard on a comeback in his hometown and hoping for a brand new start during the Aussie swing in January. Thanasi will not play for Australia at the ATP Cup, seeking other options to gain points and find himself in the main draw at the Australian Open that starts on January 20.