Thanasi Kokkinakis destroys racquet in wild scenes after win at Miami Open
The Aussie tennis player saved three match points to advance at the ATP 1000 event.
Thanasi Kokkinakis has saved three match points to pull off a remarkable comeback and advance to the round of 64 at the Miami Open, despite initially failing to qualify for the ATP 1000 event. Kokkinakis was in action against Zizou Bergs of Belgium on Thursday thanks to a lucky loser wildcard he received to enter the main draw.
The Aussie player lost in the final round of qualifying against Benoit Paire, which looked like costing him a spot in the main draw at the high-profile event. However he and fellow Aussie Chris O'Connell were both granted lucky loser spots due to late withdrawals.
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Kokkinakis made the most of his reprieve on Thursday as he downed Bergs 4-6 6-3 7-6 (9-7). The World No.94, who recently made it back into the top 100, appeared heading for the exit door again when he dropped the first set on Thursday.
However he managed to storm back into the match and won the second set, sending it to a decider. Things again looked dire for Kokkinakis when he trailed 2-4 in a third set tiebreaker, but the South Australian pulled off an extraordinary comeback to win it 9-7 - saving three match points in the process to set up a clash with eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz.
In bizarre scenes, Kokkinakis smashed his racquet as he celebrated the win, launching it into the court and lapping up the applause from the crowd. Tennis fans were left rather stunned by the wild display from the Aussie.
This is something
— Evan Greenfield (@EvanGreenfield6) March 24, 2023
Amazing efforts from both players.
— tani (@xTani) March 24, 2023
Kokkinakis later tweeted that he was "battling some serious demons" in a cryptic post-match comment. He later clarified what he's been going through recently.
"I've been feeling happy on court the past couple of weeks and made a pact with myself to at least compete, no matter how I'm feeling," he said. "My tennis is fine, it's just my head. I'm just trying to give myself every chance.
"The crowd got behind me and without them I wouldn't have pulled through. I'm happy I live to fight another day."
You managed to pull it off. Very fun to watch! 🙂
— Mark Thorne (@mthorne2) March 24, 2023
You made my night Kokki 🙌 You got this!!!
— Itati (@itatimassiel) March 24, 2023
Thanaski Kokkinakis wins on dire day for Aussies at Miami Open
It wasn't such good news for a number of other Aussies in action on Thursday, with O'Connell, Jordan Thompson and Jason Kubler all suffering defeats. O'Connell lost 4-6 6-3 6-1 to French veteran Richard Gasquet, while Thompson went down 2-6 6-4 3-6 to Alex Molcan of Slovakia. Kubler lost 4-6 6-7 (6-8) to Thiago Monteiro of Brazil.
Kokkinakis, O'Connell, Thompson and Kubler are part of Australia's biggest representation in a Miami Open men's singles draw since 2001. Aleksandar Vukic lost to Laslo Djere of Serbia 6-2 7-6 (7-3) on Wednesday, however Alexei Poyrin advanced after Mikael Ymer was forced to retire hurt with the Aussie leading 7-6 (7-5) 4-4.
"It's really tough, I think this was one of the tougher ones I've had in my career," Popyrin said of his win. "He was not trying on my serve, completely letting the ball go past, and then serving and moving quite well on his serve. It was quite a strange one for me, but I think at the end it was bad and he was really struggling."
Alex de Minaur, Australia's highest-ranked player at World No.18, will get his Miami campaign underway in the round of 64 against Quentin Halys. In other first-round action, big-hitting Czech Jiri Lehecka cruised to a 6-3 6-4 win over Federico Coria of Argentina.
"The conditions suit me much better than in Indian Wells,” Lehecka said. "The surface is a bit faster and the balls are flying more. I managed it well and I am super happy to get the win."
World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz, who won Indian Wells last week, will start his campaign on Friday. Seeking to complete the 'Sunshine Double', the 19-year-old will face Facundo Bagnis of Argentina.
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