Miami Open: De Minaur and Kokkinakis exit in thrillers
Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alex de Minaur each hold match points but are unable to convert in respective second-round matches in Miami.
While the records will show that Thanasi Kokkinakis exited in the second round of the 2023 Miami Open, it won’t quite tell the story of the fight shown by the Australian at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament.
After making his way into the main draw as a lucky loser, the 94th-ranked Kokkinakis saved three match points against Zizou Bergs to set a second round clash with No.8 seed Hubert Hurkacz.
The 26-year-old from Adelaide was once again at his fighting best early in the intriguing encounter, saving six set points as he took a 7-6(10) lead against his top-10 opponent.
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It continues a tradition of strong performances for Kokkinakis in Miami, where he stunned then-No.1 Roger Federer in the 2018 second round. Last year, he progressed to the fourth round as a qualifier.
Helped by impressive aggression – Kokkinakis firing 45 winners, including 23 aces during today’s three-and-a-half hour encounter – the South Australian held three match points in the second-set tiebeak, but was pushed to a third when the determined Hurkacz launched a recovery.
The 26-year-old from Poland defeated Jannik Sinner to claim the 2021 Miami Open, and was perhaps helped by those memories as he maintained focus in the tense contest.
After Hurkacz took the second set in just over an hour, the match progressed to another tiebreak.
At a critical juncture, Kokkinakis took control with decisive and attacking tennis. A huge second serve set up a fourth match point – but Hurkacz saved that, and another, before finally serving out a 6-7(10) 7-6(9) 7-6(6) victory.
Earlier, Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur exited the Miami Open after an absorbing battle with Frenchman Quentin Halys.
De Minaur held two match points in the third set tiebreak, and also saved one of his own, before Halys finally secured a 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 7-6(8) victory on his second match point.
The world No.79-ranked Halys required three hours and 18 minutes to claim his come-from-behind win.
The Frenchman’s impressive victory was helped by a dominant serving display, with 21 aces among his 57 total winners.
It follows a fluctuating period for De Minaur, who claimed a seventh ATP title in Acapulco last month, but exited to Marton Fucsovics in his opening match at Indian Wells.
There was better news for John Peers in doubles, as the Australian combined with Brazilian Marcelo Melo to defeat US wildcards Marcos Giron and J.J. Wolf in the first round.
Matt Ebden and Indian partner Rohan Bopanna were unable to maintain the form that saw them seize last week’s Indian Wells title, the pair falling to Kevin Krawietz and Fabrice Martin in Miami’s opening round.
Aussies in action – Miami
Men’s singles, second round
Quentin Halys (FRA) d  Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-7(5)) 7-6(3) 7-6(8)
 Hubert Hurkacz (POL) d [LL] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-7(10) 7-6(9) 7-6(6
Men’s doubles, first round
Kevin Krawietz (GER)/Fabrice Martin (FRA) d  Matt Ebden (AUS)/Rohan Bopanna (IND) 7-5 4-6 [10-4]
John Peers (AUS)/Marcelo Melo (BRA) v [WC] Marcos Giron (USA)/J.J. Wolf (USA) 6-4 7-6(5).
Men’s doubles, first round
John Peers (AUS)/Marcelo Melo (BRA) v  Hugo Nys (MCO)/Jan Zielinski (POL)
Women’s doubles, second round
 Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) v Monica Niculescu (ROU)/Alicja Rosolska (POL)
 Ellen Perez (AUS)/Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) v TBC
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