Melbourne, Australia, 24 May 2024 | Leigh Rogers

From the highs of Grand Slam glory to devastating injury setbacks, Thanasi Kokkinakis’ career has been full of twists and turns.

The 28-year-old from South Australia, who has achieved career-high rankings of world No.65 in singles and world No.15 in doubles, has learnt many lessons along the way.

Kokkinakis shares valuable advice and reflects on some of his most memorable practice experiences in our Train with the Pros series.

Do you have a favourite time of the day to practice?

It varies. I kind of try to train around the time I think I’m going to play. But I’d say probably around 11am is ideal. It means the session is not too early and won’t finish too late. I like to get my practice done with, particularly if it’s a long session, so I don’t feel like I’m at the courts for ages.

Do you have a favourite part of your game to work on?

My favourite shot is my forehand, so I love hitting those. I also enjoy working on some creative stuff, which is something I need to incorporate into my game a little bit more.

Do you have a least favourite part of your game to work on?

Running. A lot of movement and side-to-side that’s pretty boring. I don’t really like doing much volley stuff either.

How do you like to structure your training sessions?

It varies on whether I’m preparing for matches or doing preseason. I get most excited by point play and competitive stuff, which I think brings out the best in me.

Can you recall the first opportunity you had to practice with a professional player?

I can’t really remember, but it might have been when I was 14 or 15 and an orange boy at the Davis Cup. It was a tie in Brisbane and Australia played Korea. That was cool to practice with the Australian team and constantly hit with the older guys.

Do any particular training sessions stand out as the most memorable?

I’ve had a few with Roger Federer in Dubai, that was pretty cool when I got asked. When I was with Babolat, they organised a practice session with Rafael Nadal at the French Open when I was 16 and just up-and-coming. That was pretty intense.

How were your nerves before your first hit with Rafa?

I was a little bit nervous, but I was more excited as I hadn’t played in six months. I was coming off a stress fracture in my back, so I was most nervous about how my back was going to hold up more than anything.

Is there anyone on tour you’d love the opportunity to practice with?

Not really to be honest. I haven’t practised with Carlos Alcaraz, but I’ve played him.

Is there anyone from tennis history you’d love the chance to hit with?

I loved watching Andre Agassi, I just thought he was a freak with the way he hits it. So, I’d enjoy hitting with him.

What advice would you share with an aspiring player to maximise their practice sessions?

Make sure you stay engaged and keep enjoying it. It’s better off doing a shorter practice that is intense, rather than just staying on the court for the sake of it and not really working on anything.

Finally, if you had five minutes remaining in a training session and could do anything you wish, what would you choose?

I’d take a water break (laughs).

> READ MORE: From our “Train with the pros” series

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