World no. 199 Thanasi Kokkinakis has been working hard on the new season, deciding to skip the Australian Open Wild card play-off but hoping for a strong start of the year at Canberra Challenger. The Adelaide native played only nine tournaments in 2019, scoring three ATP wins and advancing into one Challenger final in the last event he entered in September in Tiburon.
Now, the youngster hopes for a fresh start, feeling better than ever during the pre-season and ready to chase the position in the top-100 as soon as possible in 2020. Thanasi had to undergo a right shoulder surgery at the end of 2015, staying away from the court until May 2017 and struggling with an abdominal strain that made his comeback even more demanding.
Following a slow return that spring, Kokkinakis made a step in the right direction after reaching the first ATP final in Los Cabos in August, unable to stay healthy after that and dropping out from the top-200 ahead of the new season.
Motivated to leave injuries and a dark period behind him, Thanasi defeated Roger Federer in Miami last year to become the lowest-ranked player who toppled the world no. 1 in 15 years, hoping for more of the same in the months to come.
There was no time to enjoy the massive triumph, though, as he suffered a knee injury in the opening set of Monte Carlo Masters against Karen Khachanov when he caught an advertising padding, missing all the events until Roland Garros and dealing with a right pectoral injury that sidelined him from the court ever since September.
"I feel good, this is the healthiest I've been in a while," Kokkinakis said. "It's the first time I've really had a pre-season with no restrictions. Hopefully, it will stay this way coming into the first few tournaments of the year.
I think I'm in a really good position coming into next year, I was also close to playing the Australian Open Wild Card Play-off and would have entered it if it was a best-of-three event or maybe only best-of-five for the last round.
I'd take the time for the rest of the year to sort my pectoral injury. I didn't want to rush that process and play best-of-five sets too soon. I tried to do the best thing body-wise, not just looking short-term for the Aussie Open, because I know it's a long year ahead.
My biggest goal is to stay healthy, I think my ranking will take care of itself when I do that. Obviously, I want to get back inside the top-100 as soon as possible and I think the quickest way to do that for me is to stay healthy.
I only played a few events last year, and a couple of them I pulled out of, and I'm still ranked around 200. If I can play more tournaments and do as well as I did, I think I'm going to have a pretty high ranking hopefully."