Aussie tennis star Thanasi Kokkinakis has defied the odds to defeat Brit Dan Evans in straight sets to advance to the second round of Roland Garros for the first time in eight years. Kokkinakis hadn't advanced to the second round in Paris since 2015, but the Aussie took the game to the 20th seed to defeat Evans 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Th Aussie wildcard entered Paris having played a number of Challenger events in Italy and France to gain momentum for the main event. And the 27-year-old proved too strong for a staggered Evans after winning three close sets.
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The World No.111 got the break-through in the first set when he lobbed Evans to take the lead 4-3. He was able to close out the set holding his nerve on serve.
Evans took a bathroom break in between sets and the reset appeared to help him find another gear. The 20th seed broke Kokkinakis and looked ready to fight his way back into the match.
However, the match took a wild turn in the second set when Evans unravelled after a foot fault. At 30-15, Evans was called for a foot fault.
The call appeared to get into the British player's head as he went on to lose the game. Evans then shattered his racquet before going after the chair umpire in a tirade.
Kokkinakis then broke Evans - after holding a tight service game where he was forced to save a number of break points - and served out the set. Nerves hit the Australian in the third set as he double faulted at 4-3 to give Evans a look in.
But the Aussie's confidence remained as he broke back with a stunning return down the line to give himself the opportunity to serve it out. And the Aussie did so to reach the second round for the first time in eight years.
The last time Kokkinakis advanced he defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili, before knocking out fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic in 2015. He lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the third round.
Great job mate! 🏆🔥🎾
— Eric (@EricInNaples) May 28, 2023
— Val Febbo (@VFebbo96) May 28, 2023
Great game . Keep fighting. You deserved 👏👏👏👏💯
— “The Dude abides.” (@miltiadiskon) May 28, 2023
— Gaspar Ribeiro Lança (@gasparlanca) May 28, 2023
— Adam Peacock (@adampeacock3) May 28, 2023
Dan "clay and I are sleeping in separate beds" Evans loses 4-6, 4-6, 4-6 to Thanasi Kokkinakis.
I don't see that improving the relationship. pic.twitter.com/OK8DccX4Uo
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) May 28, 2023
Kokkinakis took out Evans in straight sets, definitely didn't see it coming that easily, although every set was close. pic.twitter.com/GpZsKPTPzH
— Tennis Updates (@TennisUpdates23) May 28, 2023
Dan Evans devastated after Thanasi Kokkinakis defeat
Following the defeat, Evans was seething and took aim at his game. “I said the other day there’s some soul-searching,” the 20th seed said.
“There will be plenty of that tonight. Got to get on and try and get my game in a good spot. It’s shocking right now how I played today. It’s disappointing. I thought [I was] in a good spot coming in, but I felt like that the whole time. It’s not good enough.”
Kokkinakis will now play Stan Wawrinka or Spanish clay specialist Albert Ramos Vilonas. Elsewhere, fellow Aussie Storm Hunter also advanced into the second round having defeated Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Hunter earned her French Open spot having fought her way through qualifying and was able to recover from a set down to advance to the second round.
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