Melbourne, Australia , 16 January 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Nine years have passed since a teenage Thanasi Kokkinakis scored a stunning five-set victory at Australian Open 2015.

His emotional reaction after upsetting world No.13 Ernests Gulbis – which memorably included celebrating with passionate Aussie fans at Court 3 – remains one of the 27-year-old’s favourite memories.

Since then, there’s been heartbreak aplenty both on and off the court at the Melbourne Park. From rehabbing career-threatening injuries to crushing losses and difficult draws that have tested his resolve.

However, the world No.80’s perseverance has finally been rewarded in the opening round at Australian Open 2024.

Kokkinakis’ resilience was on show this evening at John Cain Arena, where he staged an incredible comeback to record a 7-6(1) 2-6 6-7(4) 6-1 7-6(8) victory against world No.37 Sebastian Ofner.

He withstood a barrage of 77 winners from the Austrian, while tallying 43 of his own, to triumph in four hours and 18 minutes.

“Usually I’m the one kind of dictating and hitting more winners hopefully than my opponent,” Kokkinakis noted. “Sometimes he was kind of taking it to me, and I got a little passive.

“It was just a battle … He showed why he is a 30-something in the world player. He’s very good.”

It snaps a three-match losing streak in Australian Open five-set battles, stretching back to his major breakthrough in 2015, and is Kokkinakis’ first top-50 singles win at the tournament since then too.

“I know it’s a first round, but this one means a lot,” Kokkinakis said.

Kokkinakis’ reward is a second-round showdown with world No.13 Grigor Dimitrov. The in-form Bulgarian is on a six-match winning streak this summer after scooping the Brisbane International title.

“Grigor is a hell of a player. He’s been doing this for a while and he’s in some great form right now,” Kokkinakis acknowledged.

“But I back myself. I’ve beaten higher-ranked players before, I’ve lost to lower-ranked players. It’s a number, it’s about coming out on the day and playing my best tennis, so hopefully I can do that.”

Earlier today, Max Purcell recorded his first main-draw singles win at the Australian Open. The world No.45 made his long-awaited breakthrough with a four-set victory over Hungarian qualifier Mate Valkusz.

> BUY NOW: Australian Open 2024 tickets

Aussies in action – Australian Open

Men’s singles, first round
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d Sebastian Ofner (AUT) 7-6(1) 2-6 6-7(4) 7-6(8)
Max Purcell (AUS)
 d [Q] Mate Valkusz (HUN) 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4 7-5
Alex Michelsen (USA) d [WC] James McCabe (AUS) 7-6(5) 3-6 6-1 6-2

Women’s singles, first round
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) d Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6(3) 4-6 6-4
[11] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) d [WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) 7-6(5) 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) d [WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) 6-3 6-1

Men’s singles, second round
[10] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Matteo Arnaldi (ITA)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS)
 v [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v [7] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
Max Purcell (AUS) v [11] Casper Ruud (NOR)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v [13] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
Chris O’Connell (AUS) v [16] Ben Shelton (USA)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2024 men’s singles draw

Women’s singles, second round
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) v [11] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 
[Q] Storm Hunter (AUS)
 v Laura Siegemund (GER)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2024 women’s singles draw

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