It took five long sets, but Thanasi Kokkinakis has managed to beat Australia’s top seeded player Bernard Tomic to reach the third round of the French Open alongside Nick Kyrgios.
The 19-year-old trailed two sets to love and then was down 5-2 in the final set, but battled back both times to win the match 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 8-6.
Tomic had been battling a energy-sapping virus the days before, but was able to dominate the first two sets, looking like a win was at hand.
An energetic comeback by Kokkinakis changed the pace of the match, forcing Tomic into a fifth deciding set.
A fall on his raquet during the fourth set unsettled Kokkinakis, with cuts on his stomach and a hurt hip getting in the way. He needed two medical time outs throughout the match, but fought through the pain, basing a lot of his tactics on his serve
“My hip is pretty sore,” he said after the match. “It’s pretty bruised right now, but that’s all right.
“We’ll see how it pulls up.”
The result pushes Kokkinakis to a provisional career-high ranking of No 68.
Yet, the worst isn’t over. Kokkinakis will face reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion, Novak Djokovic in round 3.
He’ll be joining fellow Greek Australian Nick Kyrgios who takes on Andy Murray.
Kyrgios heap praised on his friend, saying his fighting spirit goes a long way.
“It is massive,” Kyrgios said.
‘That was a tough match. He was two sets to love down when I was watching and it was 2-1 to Bernard, 0-40, and I thought that if Bernard got one of those points there, it was all over.
“But Thanna has shown that a couple of times this year. He has been down match points and he has been tough to put away. It is a great effort again.”
While Kokkinakis has never played against Djokovic, he says he has warmed up with him in practise.