Kokkinakis falls in four to del Potro
It was another tough Grand Slam main draw but Thanasi Kokkinakis pushed Juan Martin del Potro all the way before falling in a three-hour battle at Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Juan Martin del Potro has seen off Thanasi Kokkinakis in an entertaining four-set match to take his place in the second round at Wimbledon.
The Argentine, seeded 29th, overcame the 21-year-old Aussie 6-3 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4 to set up a meeting with Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis.
It was yet another rough Grand Slam draw for Kokkinakis, who just a few weeks ago at Roland Garros faced world No.9 Kei Nishikori in his opener and pushed the Japanese star to four sets.
In the Slam before that – at US Open 2015 – Kokkinakis had to take on 12th-ranked Richard Gasquet.
“The same thing as last time, (I feel) like I’m getting closer,” Kokkinakis said.
“He served pretty good. Felt like when he was acing me he was hitting chalk every time. I was trying to cover the best serves.
“But again, I’m close against good players. Wouldn’t mind playing somebody who is not as good (smiling). That’s all right. It happens.
“I have to keep working to stay healthy and trust my body.”
Del Potro, a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2013, is perhaps a more natural grasscourter than Kokkinakis, with his powerful serves and flat drives perfectly suited to the lawns.
And it showed in the first set, with del Potro holding points for a 4-0 lead as the Aussie struggled to control his loopier, heavier forehand.
"I've missed that many forehands!" Kokkinakis mouths as he sends another into the tape when there was an opening past Delpo at net.
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) July 4, 2017
The Argentine dominated the first set but Kokkinakis settled in the second, getting the tall Argentine on the run and drawing some errors to break in the eighth game. When he served out the second set, fans on No.2 court had a match on their hands.
“I’d say clay and hard are probably my preferred (surfaces), but I wasn’t going into this grass court season thinking I’m like a liability on grass like I was in a couple years past,” Kokkinakis reflected.
“That’s a good thing for me going forward. I feel better and more comfortable on a grass court now.”
It certainly seemed that way when the former world No.69 – now ranked 486th after 18 months of shoulder problems – broke early in the third set.
Yet del Potro got the break back in the sixth game and dominated the ensuing tiebreak, which Kokkinakis described as “horrendous” after he coughed up two double faults.
The fourth was tight, with Kokkinakis surviving three break points in the seventh game – saving one with a forehand swinging volley winner – to push ahead 4-3.
Yet he couldn’t deny del Potro, who converted a break point opportunity two games later.
Serving for the match, del Potro saw six match points come and go before finally converting his seventh with a trademark forehand winner to end the three-hour battle.
“It was really tough match. That’s what I expected before the match. He has a good game to play on grass, and he serves really, really fast. He moves well from the baseline,” del Potro observed.
“But I think he made an easy mistakes in important moments of the match. I took all the chances to survive. I started to play better. I feel confidence with the results in the end of the match.”