'Hard to watch': Tennis fans gutted by 'sad' Thanasi Kokkinakis drama
Thanasi Kokkinakis' dream run into the Australian Open was unceremoniously halted in the first round of the grand slam, with the 25-year-old outplayed in straight sets.
After winning the Adelaide International last week, his first tournament victory on the ATP Tour, hopes wer high the oft-injured Kokkinakis could make a deep run at Melbourne Park.
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Instead, Aussie fans were left stunned as Kokkinakis ran into a brick wall against German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann 6-2, 6-3, 6-*.
Looking to reaffirm his place among Australia's contingent of emerging tennis stars, Kokkinakis looked a step slow against Hanfmann, with his serve not as potent as it felt in the Adelaide final.
Fans were shocked at the early exit for Kokkinakis, with some speculating his victory in Adelaide could have been more taxing than many thought.
Kokkinakis rode a five-match winning streak into the game after winning last week's Adelaide International 2, giving the injury-plagued 25-year-old his long-awaited maiden ATP title.
A first round victory would have set up a second round showdown with Rafael Nadal, who praised Kokkinakis after his Adelaide triumph.
Seven years ago Kokkinakis beat Gulbis on this court (3) assisted by the loudest most obnoxious Australian crowd you'll ever see.
Seems there'll be no repeat tonight.#AustralianOpen
— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) January 17, 2022
Yannick Hanfmann playing lights out here on Show Court 3. He’s dictating play, moving Kokkinakis around the court and playing ultra aggressive tennis. Doesn’t look like Kokk has a heap left in the tank after Adelaide, but Hanfmann is playing VERY well. #AusOpen
— Jedd Zetzer (@JeddZetzer) January 17, 2022
Oof Thanasi Kokkinakis appears to have left his game in Adelaide. Can we get it air mailed ASAP?
— Tim Callanan (@MrTimCallanan) January 17, 2022
Thanasi Kokkinakis, who entered the #AusOpen with 8 wins in 9 matches in 2022, is now 6-2, 6-3, 4-1 down to Hanfmann.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 17, 2022
This is hard to watch. Can Kokkinakis get out of this? #AusOpen
— Natacha Maloon (@natachamaloon) January 17, 2022
This is sad because I was looking forward to watching Nadal vs Kokkinakis #AusOpen
— 𝓡𝓮𝓷𝓮𝓮𝓢𝓮𝓻𝓰𝓲🌸 (@ReneeSergi) January 17, 2022
"He's always has been a fantastic player he's been very unlucky with lots of injuries," Nadal said.
"I am really happy to see him back at a very high level, maybe his best-ever level, and if that happens, it's going to be very tough for me, a big test."
Rafael Nadal through to Australian Open second round
Rafael Nadal has wasted no time underlining his Australian Open title credentials with a commanding first-round win at Melbourne Park.
Pounding winners from all angles of the court, Nadal looked lethal in a 6-1 6-4 6-2 demolition of American Marcos Giron on Monday.
The dramatic deportation of world No.1 and nine-times champion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer's injury-enforced absence has left Nadal as the only player with the chance to snare a record 21st men's grand slam singles crown this month.
And the great Spaniard needed only one hour and 48 minutes to confirm he's over the debilitating foot injury that cruelled his 2021 season, not to mention his bout of COVID-19 only last month.
As well as clubbing 34 clean winners, Nadal broke Giron five times and offered up only two break points on his own serve all match.
Nadal's victory came after the 35-year-old captured his 89th career title in Adelaide this month in a triumphant return after missing six months of last season.
"I am happy that if you told me one month ago that I would be in this position, I would have signed the paper," Nadal said.
"It's been a very challenging few months. Not not only the six months obviously of being outside of competition but since the first lockdown in 2020.
"Honestly, it's been very tough moments and there are still doubts but here I am and I can't be happier to be back in this amazing stadium. It's fantastic."
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