Thanasi Kokkinakis has revealed the incredible message he received from Roger Federer after winning his first match at the Australian Open in six years.
Kokkinakis was overcome with emotion after the injury-plagued Aussie advanced to the second round of his home slam on Tuesday for the first time since 2015.
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The 24-year-old produced an irresistible display of power hitting and thundered 19 aces in a dominant 6-4 6-1 6-1 win over South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon.
The result had been a long time coming for Kokkinakis, who was floored by glandular fever this time last year and has endured a long list of serious injury setbacks throughout his career.
“At 5-0 (in the third set) I felt this massive roar and cheer from the crowd and I started tearing up,” Kokkinakis said.
“It was a bit of a soft moment but there was just so much stuff behind the scenes to get back to that point that not a lot of people realise.
“I definitely got a bit emotional.
“I had a lot of friends and family there watching. They probably made up about 90 per cent of the stands, so I'm appreciative of that.
“Just playing with that energy and crowd and being able to win - there was so much work behind the scenes and so much pain - it's just a massive relief.”
Only those close know the journey....
Grateful I get another chance at this thing🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/SLxi1EVHNl
— Thanasi Kokkinakis (@TKokkinakis) February 9, 2021
And it appears someone else who was watching was none other than 20-time grand slam champ Federer.
Kokkinakis took to social media after his win to show the message Federer had sent him in congratulations.
“Nice one Thanaser. Happy for you,” Federer’s message said.
Kokkinakis shared the message on his Instagram story, writing: “What a king @rogerfederer”.
I love that neither Kokkinakis nor Federer follow each other on Instagram.
— Marc McGowan 🗣✍️👨🏻💻📰 (@ByMarcMcGowan) February 9, 2021
Kokkinakis sets up clash with Tsitsipas
Kokkinakis beat Federer at the Miami Open in 2018, a sign of his prodigious talent that has been hampered by injury after injury.
The Aussie blasted 30 winners as he out-gunned and out-manoeuvred Kwon in a match that lasted just 93 minutes.
“My serve was a massive part and I thought I kept my composure very well,” Kokkinakis said.
“I stayed level-headed throughout the whole match, so that was a key.
“My body feels really good at the moment so I can't wait to get out there and have another crack.”
Before Tuesday night, Kokkinakis’ most recent win at his home grand slam was in 2015 when he shocked 11th seed Ernests Gulbis in a five-set epic.
He is now ranked 267th, but peaked at No.69 and has the scalp of Federer among a host of top-20 players to his name.
Kokkinakis will meet fifth-seeded Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round, who easily beat French veteran Gilles Simon 6-1 6-2 6-1.
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