Melbourne, Australia, 9 February 2021 | Leigh Rogers

Perserverance is paying off for Thanasi Kokkinakis, who has won his first Australian Open main draw match in six years.

After a horror stretch with injuries and confidence-shattering setbacks, the 24-year-old is finally back at Melbourne Park competing against the world’s best.

Kokkinakis proved he belongs too, posting a comprehensive 6-4 6-1 6-1 victory against world No.97 Soonwoo Kwon at Court 3 this evening.

“It’s been very, very challenging the last few years,” Kokkinakis admitted. “It’s (been) a massive, massive journey.”

Determined to put those memories behind him, Kokkinakis served 19 aces and hit 30 winners in his impressive 94-minute victory.

The victory clearly meant a lot to the Australian too, who fought back tears after the match.

“I was just stoked. Very happy. Massive amount of relief, and, yeah, it was a bit emotional,” Kokkinakis explained. “The people around me know the ups and downs what I have been through mentally, just trying to get to the starting line of the tournament.”

World No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas awaits in the second round – and Kokkinakis is hoping for a ‘rowdy’ crowd for their showdown.

“It’s going to be exciting. Obviously a phenomenal player, one of the favorites for this tournament,” Kokkinakis said of facing the Australian Open 2019 semifinalist.

“I just can’t wait to get out there. I’m not sure what court we’ll play on, I’m sure it will be a pretty big one. I’m hoping there is a decent crowd … and hopefully it’s pretty loose.”

AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2021

Aussies in action – day two results

Men’s singles, first round
[21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) d Tennys Sandgren (USA) 7-5 6-1 6-1
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-4 6-1 6-1
[WC] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) d Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-6(2) 7-6(5) 6-1
[WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d [13] David Goffin (BEL) 3-6 6-4 6-7(4) 7-6(6) 6-3
[19] Karen Khachanov (RUS) d [WC] Aleksandar Vukic 6-3 6-7(4) 7-6(2) 6-4
[24] Casper Ruud (NOR) d Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 6-3 2-1 ret.
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d [WC] Li Tu (AUS) 6-7(1) 6-4 7-6(4) 6-4

Women’s singles, first round
[1] Ash Barty (AUS) d Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-0 6-0
[WC] Daria Gavrilova (AUS) d Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-1 7-5
[WC] Sam Stosur (AUS) d [WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS) 6-4 6-4
[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) d [WC] Maddison Inglis (AUS) 7-5 6-4
Nao Hibino (JPN) d [WC] Astra Sharma (AUS) 2-6 6-3 7-5
Madison Brengle (USA) d [WC] Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-1 6-2

> READ: Stosur’s triumphant Grand Slam return

Australian Open 2021 tickets are now on sale via Ticketmaster.