Rising Australian star Thanasi Kokkinakis is excited to return to Melbourne Park as he still remembers his famous win over former world No. 10 Ernests Gulbis. The 22-year-old won three qualifying matches this past week to secure a place in the Australian Open main draw.
The Australian handed straight-set defeats to Mohamed Safwat, Sebastian Ofner and Peter Polansky. Kokkinakis is now set to make his fourth main draw appearance at the Australian Open. One of the main highlights of the 2015 Australian Open was home-favourite Kokkinakis' hard-fought first-round win over Gulbis 5-7 6-0 1-6 7-6 (2) 8-6.
In the remaining two Australian Open appearances, Kokkinakis made the second round in 2014 and lost in the first round a year ago respectively. "It's always an unbelievable feeling to come back to a home slam, unbelievable atmosphere.
My best memory is 2015 in the first round, when I beat Gulbis. I was on Show Court 3 having those fans just banging on the wood, everyone was going nuts and I remember having chills at every moment. I couldn't get to sleep until 4-5am the next morning, so it was a pretty surreal moment," Kokkinakis said, per Tennis Australia.
Kokkinakis has received a favorable first-round matchup as he has been drawn to meet Taro Daniel in the first round. "(This year I'm aiming) just to give it all I have, to go out there, embrace the crowd, be calm and try and play to the way I know I can.
Play my level, compete hard and give it a red-hot crack," Kokkinakis added. Also read: Hubert Hurkacz ready for Australian Open debut, targets top-50 ranking