"The crowd just like ralled me back. I honestly couldn't have asked for anything more," the native Adelaide Australian said after winning his Adelaide International title battling many years of ailment and injuries. He had defeated France's Arthur Rinderknech 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 and along the victory path knocking out Benoit Paire, John Isner and Marin Cilic to seal the crown.
Things haven't always looked so rosy for the 6'4" dude from the home country who has battled pectoral, groin, knee and elbow injuries. A shoulder operation ended a tour year in 2015 and then glandular fever pushed him in the hospital twice in 2020.
He has literally played only 4-5 tournaments in a few years and his last time on the competitive court before reaching Adelaide was in October resulted in a loss at the qualifying round. Kokkinakis met his resurgence in Adelaide International 2 as a warm up for the Australian Open.
He felt proud in winning his maiden career title on hometown soil and said to the ATP media that "I felt some serious love from a lot of people...It has surprised me a little bit." The 25-year-old experienced a lot of first in this new season.
First time getting his game together, being in Adelaide in a while, capturing a career title just a lot. It was pretty daunting for him on coming in quite cold to having played enough previous tournaments. The win and title over Rinderknech had went fast and the Aussie laughed saying "Obviously it just happened yesterday, now I'm here getting ready for another tournament." It's been almost a decade of being a pro that he hasn't felt this accomplished and rewarded.
"I was able to build that continuity and rhythm. I was able to train hard, get in shape physically I've probably ever been in," he emphasized. But things kind of fell at the first round of the opening slam of the season for the smiling lanky guy.
Thanasi Kokkinakis had met his match when he went up against Germany's Yannick Hanfmann. It was a straight set defeat of 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 that gave Kokkinakis a reality check on technically how difficult it it to keep the momentum of a successful tournament on the burner.
He was tired and couldn't help making many blunders from the start of the match. It could have been too much too soon for the Aussie to re-group, gain mental and physical strength to go on. The excellent serves he performed throughout the Adelaide match nearly dissipated and his strategies never were sharp enough to make a difference in the opening match.
Last year Kokkinakis did make the Melbourne slam to go through the second round. It proved obvious that Thanasi Kokkinakis had more on his plate than he could handle and time wasn't on his side to whip up another victory as the previous rounds at Adelaide.
But he leaves Melbourne with good vibes as to what he was able to do which produced his first career title. He had his hometown crowd present and encouraged to know that they will always support him mentally and emotionally.