World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas didn't hide his happiness after surviving a tough Thanasi Kokkinakis challenge. Tsitsipas, seeded at No. 5, was tested by Kokkinakis but managed to escape with a win as he edged out the Australian 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-1 6-7 (5) 6-4 to reach the third round at Melbourne Park.
Kokkinakis, who achieved a career-high ranking of No. 69 in 2015, has battled various injuries over the last five years. Tsitsipas, who made the Australian Open semifinal in 2019, beat Kokkinakis but he was happy to see the 24-year-old Australian back competing at the highest level.
"I just want to go for an ice bath right now,” Tsitsipas said in an on-court interview, as revealed on the ATP website. “Thanasi is a great competitor and fighter. It was extremely difficult to face him today, he has huge potential.
He is a greater server and has huge shots from the baseline. I know he wasn’t able to play for many years, but I’m pleased to see him back competing at a very high level”.
Kokkinakis pushed Tsitsipas into a five-setter
Kokkinakis saved two set points on his serve in the 10th game of the first set, before converting his first set point of the set to win the opener.
After losing a tight first set, Tsitsipas claimed the first break of the match in the third game of the second set and then held on to his serve the rest of the set to level the match at one set apiece. The Greek then absolutely dominated the third set as he broke Kokkinakis three times to take a two sets to one lead.
In the fourth set, Tsitsipas had a match point on Kokkinakis' serve in the 10th game but failed to convert as the Australian realized his first set point to force a decider. But Tsitsipas kept his focus as he broke Kokkinakis in the fifth game and then held on to his serve the rest of the set set to claim a five-setter win.