Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Stefanos Tsitsipas: Match of Day 4 at the Australian Open

Stefanos Tsitsipas in action at the ATP Finals

Day 4 at the Australian Open will be a stacked one. The veteran Feliciano Lopez takes on young Italian Lorenzo Sonego, teen prodigy Carlos Alcaraz faces Dutch player Botic Van de Zandschulp and Rafael Nadal is pitted against five-time Challenger Tour titlist Michael Mmoh.

The pick of the litter, however, has got to be Stefanos Tsitsipas going head-to-head with a resurrected Thanasi Kokkinakis. We explore the reasons why this is likely to be the match of the day.

Kokkinakis on the comeback with nothing to lose

Before playing at the Murray River Open a couple of weeks ago, Thanasi Kokkinakis had not played an ATP or Challenger match since the Tiburon Challenger in September 2019, where he reached the final. He had been forced to withdraw from the biggest match of his career against Rafael Nadal at the US Open only weeks before due to a right pectoral injury.

This is the tip of the iceberg in an injury-plagued career for Kokkinakis. He broke his kneecap in Monte Carlo in 2018, mere weeks after defeating Roger Federer at the Miami Masters. He had to pull out of the Barletta Challenger in 2019 with a shoulder injury. Kokkinakis also suffered from glandular fever in 2020, which caused him to lose 10kg as he could not eat properly. (He has since put the weight back on.) The list goes on.

It is easy to forget the Aussie is still only 24 years old and has still got a lot to give to professional tennis. It has been a tough road but he is back on the horse. Kokkinakis will be happy just to be back on-court which could mean he will be swinging freely – Tsitsipas will have to play well to fend him off.

[pickup_prop id=”4821″]

Both players are playing some of their best tennis

One might expect Kokkinakis to be rusty on the comeback trail but he is playing some of his best tennis. Granted, he has only played one match this tournament against Soonwoo Kwon, but his win was fairly emphatic, handing the Korean his heaviest defeat at a Grand Slam. Conversely, this was the most comfortable win for Kokkinakis at a Grand Slam, having never won a main draw match in straight sets previously.

Kokkinakis further proved doubters wrong by excelling in his serving and movement. He was able to hit 19 aces against Kwon, the joint-most aces he has hit in any best of five match. Furthermore, his movement has looked exceptional for someone that has been out of the game, running around to hit the inside-out forehand frequently. It looks as though Kokkinakis has put the work in the offseason and it seems to be paying dividends.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is a different kettle of fish to Kwon, however. The Greek was in fine form against the ever tricky Gilles Simon–he managed to hit 25 winners to Simon’s six, an incredible accomplishment against a player who refuses to give up in any given rally. Tsitsipas covered his serve fantastically well and gave Simon a taste of his medicine on return, forcing him to play as many balls as possible. The performance is an indication that Tsitsipas has been working hard on his return game in the offseason.

Both players have put in the work the last couple of months and look to be in decent form. If Kokkinakis can hang on to his own serve well enough, Tsitsipas could be in trouble.

The atmosphere will be electric

Kokkinakis will have some home support and will likely draw on it as much as he can throughout the match. Tsitsipas also has an affinity with the Melbourne crowd himself as he defeated Federer here a couple of years ago. Both players will be keen to give their supporters something to shout about.

The match is to be played on Rod Laver Arena also so the crowd will be at the highest capacity possible at the Australian Open under the current restrictions.

Grab the popcorn…

Tune into the Australian Open this Thursday to catch these players locking horns. The match is due to start not before 13:30 AEST.

Main Photo from Getty.


More Posts

Send Us A Message