Kokkinakis makes strong start in Dubai

Thanasi Kokkinakis has beaten a Frenchman ranked almost 30 places above him in the rankings as he continues his promising start to the year at the Dubai Open.

Kokkinakis, ranked No.101 in the world, is a wildcard but he beat French lucky loser and world No.73 Quentin Halys, 6-4 7-6 (11-9), at the Aviation Club Tennis Centre on Monday.

Kokkinakis has bounced back well after his heartbreaking defeat in five sets by Andy Murray at the Australian Open, winning a Challenger title in Bahrain, where he beat Jordan's Abedallah Shelbayh in the final.

Halys has won their two previous meetings but Kokkinakis clinched victory in straight sets when he recovered from 8-9 down in the tiebreak to win the last three points.

Kokkinakis will next play the winner of Tuesday's match between Britain's Daniel Evans and Croatia's Borna Coric, the No.8 seed.

Fellow Aussie Alexei Popyrin was also a wildcard in Dubai but was edged out in three sets by Russian qualifier Pavel Kotov, 6-3 5-7 7-6 (7-3).