Thanasi Kokkinakis claims dramatic all-Aussie battle, Jack Draper banks first 2023 win

Thanasi Kokkinakis United Cup Credit: Alamy
Thanasi Kokkinakis United Cup Credit: Alamy

Thanasi Kokkinakis continued his good form in his hometown of Adelaide as he downed compatriot Alexei Popyrin 6-0, 6-7 (5-7), 7-5.

It took close to three hours to separate the Australians in the first round of the ATP 250 Adelaide International 2.

Kokkinakis was delighted to give the home crowd something to cheer for on Monday.

“It’s what you play for to be honest. I’ve had many great memories last year as well. Having that home energy and home crowd was crazy. I’m happy I gave them something to cheer about there,” Kokkinakis said.

“It was almost going too smoothly, but then when I got the crowd into it and got them fired up, I know that’s what they came to see. It’s why you do all the work in all those tough moments. You remember those feelings and that’s something you can’t replicate other than [in] tennis.”

The big-serving Australian Open doubles champion had to fight back from the brink of defeat.

Kokkinakis will have to step up his game again, when he faces Andrey Rublev in the second round.

“It’s going to be tough. He hits the [heck] out of the ball. I practised with him two days ago and it’s not easy. We played well, it was a good set. But it’s tricky. He’s a hell of a player,” Kokkinakis said.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to take my game and get after it. It’s going to be a tough match.”

In other action on Monday in Adelaide, Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina outlasted reigning Next Gen champion Brandon Nakashima 6-2, 7-6(3) in a tight contest.

Keeping the flag flying for Great Britain on an otherwise dissapointing day was young Jack Draper.

Draper blew past Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-2 to book his place in the Round of 16.

The 21-year-old saved three of the four break points he faced to claim his first win of the 2023 season following an opening round loss in Adelaide last week.

While Mackenzie McDonald let slip a two-set advantage against Daniel Evans three years ago at the Australian Open, the American got some of his own back on Monday when he ousted the Briton 7-5, 7-5 in their first meeting since that Grand Slam clash.

Another Brit, Kyle Edmund, was dumped out by Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic who reached the second round with a 6-4, 7-5 triumph.

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