Kokkinakis pushing for top-100 return

·2-min read

Thanasi Kokkinakis is determined to prove he belongs at grand slams and is targeting a return to the top-100 following a brave Australian Open comeback.

Plagued by injuries in recent times, 24-year-old Kokkinakis pushed Greek superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets in a second-round epic.

Despite bowing out, his equal best-run at Melbourne Park since 2015 has given Kokkinakis confidence again.

"I've got a long way to go, a lot of work to do, but I think (testing Tsitsipas) proved to me and a few other people that I have still got it in me," Kokkinakis told reporters.

"I'm going to try to use this as motivation and keep kicking forward."

The performance against the world No.5 was all the more impressive considering Kokkinakis has battled a plethora of serious injuries for years, which has seen his world ranking plummet to No.267.

He also missed last year's Open due to glandular fever and then chose not to travel overseas to play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kokkinakis will venture outside of Australia this year but he is just not sure when.

"I don't want to go overseas and come back with a two-week quarantine, so I've got to pick my moments, because when I go overseas I've got to be ready to go the whole time," he said.

"Hopefully, I can play a lot of matches and build that ranking up to where I think it should be.

"My short-term goal is to be top-100 and go from there, because I think I can go a lot higher obviously than that.

"It's a lot easier when you're there because then you can kind of pick and choose your schedules."

When fit, the South Australian remains a formidable foe, as he proved when beating then-world No.1 Roger Federer three years ago at the Miami Open.

Kokkinakis is not completely done at Melbourne Park, as he gears up to pair with great mate Nick Kyrgios in doubles.

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios were first dubbed the 'Special Ks' in 2013 when they squared off in the Australian Open junior final and appeared to have the tennis world at their feet.

The pair were due to play their first-round doubles match on Thursday night, shortly after Kokkinakis lost to Tsitsipas, but rain caused the court three encounter to be delayed.

"It's going to be good fun. (Kyrgios) was going to have to carry me a little bit (if they played). I would have been pretty tired," he added.