Kokkinakis’ remarkable Roland Garros run ends in third round
Aussie wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis has been beaten in a four-set battle against world No.11 Karen Khachanov in Paris.
Thanasi Kokkinakis’ stirring run at Roland Garros has come to an end.
The Aussie wildcard put up a gallant fight against world No.11 Karen Khachanov in third-round singles action in Paris today, before bowing out in four sets.
Khachanov eventually prevailed 6-4 6-1 3-6 7-6(5) in a three-hour and 42-minute encounter full of dramatic momentum swings.
Competing in a Grand Slam third round for the first time since 2015, Kokkinakis made a promising start. The 27-year-old Australian snared an early break to establish a 4-2 lead in the opening set.
But Khachanov came roaring back, winning seven consecutive games to emphatically gain the momentum.
A pectoral injury appeared to be bothering Kokkinakis and impacting his ability to generate power on serve. He was also dealing with a confident opponent who was effortlessly combining sizzling groundstrokes and fine touch to control points.
With 12 winners and only six unforced errors, Khachanov raced through the second set in convincing fashion.
The towering Khachanov has been a consistent performer at Roland Garros throughout his career, reaching the fourth round or better in five of his six previous appearances.
His clay-court prowess was on show at Court Simonne-Mathieu, frustrating Kokkinakis with his constant pressure.
But with a vocal crowd behind him, Kokkinakis’ confidence grew as the match went on.
The Aussie impressively fought back and had his chances to level at two sets apiece. He held a set point on serve in the 10th game and then led 4-1 in the fourth-set tiebreak, however a steely Khachanov simply had too many answers.
In his on-court interview, Khachanov described it “as a really crazy match”.
“I’m really happy I can win in the fourth (set), because I was a break down and getting ready for the fifth,” he admitted.
The 27-year-old Russian has now won 12 of his past 13 matches, including his last nine, against Aussie players.
Kokkinakis, who had been aiming to become the first Australian man to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros since Lleyton Hewitt in 2007, can still take many positives from the tournament.
He scored two impressive victories against quality opponents, including No.20 seed Dan Evans in the opening round. This was Kokkinakis’ first win against a seeded player at a major tournament since 2015.
His epic five-set win against three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the second round was also potentially season-changing after a string of devastatingly close losses.
Currently ranked world No.108, Kokkinakis is projected to rise more than 20 spots thanks to his performances in Paris.
Aussies in action – Roland Garros
Men’s singles, third round
 Karen Khachanov d [WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-4 6-1 3-6 7-6(5)
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