Roland Garros: Kokkinakis wins all-Aussie epic
Thanasi Kokkinakis has overcome injury, a two-set deficit and three match points to oust compatriot Bernard Tomic at Roland Garros; world No.1 Novak Djokovic is next.
Thanasi Kokkinakis has overcome injury, a two-set deficit and three match points to oust seeded Australian countryman Bernard Tomic and set up a third-round French Open showdown with Novak Djokovic.
Kokkinakis looked to have cruelled his chances after hurting his hip and cutting his stomach in a nasty tumble deep in the fourth set.
But the tenacious teenager recovered after two medical time-outs to claw his way back from 5-2 down in the fifth set to prevail 3-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 8-6 after three hours and 22 minutes.
“My hip is pretty sore,” he said.
“Physically I felt pretty good the whole match though. Just trusted the work I did all through. I had a lot of matches so I felt like I had the miles under my legs. But, yeah, my hip is pretty sore right now.”
Djokovic confirmed his appointment with Kokkinakis with a 6-1 6-4 6-4 dismissal of Gilles Muller.
“I just can’t wait to get out there,” Kokkinakis said.
“I am going to give it what I got and hopefully I come out with the right result.”
Kokkinakis and seeded big guns Nick Kyrgios and Sam Stosur are Australia’s last three survivors in the singles draws.
Battling an energy-sapping virus, Tomic entered Thursday’s match under a fitness cloud, but he played two fine first sets to look in total command as Kokkinakis was unable to convert any of his first 12 break-point chances.
“Every time I didn’t take a break point it was like someone shot an arrow to me,” Kokkinakis said.
“I can’t even explain how berserk I was going. At one point I said, get me off the court. Luckily I didn’t.”
Kokkinakis seemed to have wrestled back control until his fall, with even Tomic believing his Davis Cup teammate was in big trouble.
“I actually thought he could have hurt himself a lot more,” Tomic said.
“I saw in the locker-room, he has a lot of problems in that thing, a lot of blood.
“I’m happy that he’s okay because that fall is much worse than it looked … he could have got a lot more injured because of that.”
Kokkinakis, who pulled off a similarly courageous five-set first-round win over world No.11 Ernests Gulbis, broke Tomic again to nudge ahead 7-6 and calmly served out the match after three hours and 22 minutes.
“He did a good job to come back. I kind of screwed up in the end,” Tomic said.
“Good credit to him.”