Kokkinakis adds to Aussie joy in Paris

2024 French Open - Day 3
Thanasi Kokkinakis celebrates against Alexei Popyrin (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Thanasi Kokkinakis continued his winning run against fellow Australian Alexei Popyrin taking down his higher-ranked opponent for the third time in three meetings to join Alex de Minaur as the only Aussies in the second round at the French Open.

Kokkinakis, ranked 100 in the world, needed all five sets to take down world No.51 Popyrin, also a former junior champion at Roland Garros, eventually winning the deciding set 6-3 after Popyrin had won the fourth to level the match.

It was just the second time in the past 22 years that two Australian men have met in a first-round singles match in Paris and Kokkinakis had won both of their previous professional meetings, which were on hard courts in 2023.

Kokkinakis was jubilant in victory as he booked what looms as a winnable second-round clash with Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri, having also reached the third round at the French Open in 2023.

His victory came after de Minaur destroyed 19-year-old American Alex Michelsen in straight sets, losing just three games in frigid conditions having waited for five hours to get on court after a rain delay, and wearing a thermal undershirt to help battle the conditions.

“It wasn’t easy out there today. Obviously a long day, stop, starting. More than anything mentally, having to deal with cold and rain in your face,” the world No.11 said.

“Just had to make sure I had good mentality today. That’s probably the most important thing.

2024 French Open - Day 3
Alex De Minaur in action in Paris. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

“I feel like every time I come here to Paris, it’s raining. I can remember very few times where I feel like I’ve played a hot day here, and I remember plenty of th

ese types of matches, sadly.

“But I knew what to expect. I was ready. I had my undershirt thermal layering on. Yeah, I was ready for a battle in the cold and rain.”

While the dynamic duo made it through to the second round, countrymen Rinky Hijikata and Adam Walton joined the lengthy beaten brigade, among the nine Aussies sent packing after the first three days of competition