London, Great Britain, 4 July 2024 | Leigh Rogers

In his pre-tournament press conference at Wimbledon 2024, Thanasi Kokkinakis was asked whether he liked the drama and competitive aspects of a five-set match.

“For sure, I love when it gets into those stages,” he replied.

“It ends up being a battle not just of tennis, but will, intensity, the atmosphere. The crowd loves it more, but if I would be able to get it done earlier, I would definitely take that. It would definitely help me for the rounds to come, rather than putting my body through the wringer.

“It’s pretty stressful for me and everyone involved, so I’d rather not.”

Kokkinakis did not get his wish in the opening round at the All England Club, needing five sets to battle past world No.17 Felix Auger-Aliassime in a dramatic encounter played across two days.

The 28-year-old South Australian eventually triumphed 4-6 5-7 7-6(9) 6-4 6-4, more than 24 hours after the match began, to record his biggest Grand Slam victory in nine years.

“Stoked with that win and happy with how I performed,” Kokkinakis said.

“I took on the big moments today and played the right way.”

Auger-Aliassime almost closed out a straight-sets victory on Tuesday evening, only for Kokkinakis to save four match points in a tense third-set tiebreak played in fading light.

When the match resumed on Wednesday early in the fourth set, it was Kokkinakis who struck first. He raced to a 5-3 lead, before inclement weather forced the players off court once again.

After pushing the match into a deciding set on return, Kokkinakis charged home to complete a memorable victory after four hours and 38 minutes on court.

“Grass hasn’t been my best surface, but I actually feel like I’m playing some good tennis,” Kokkinakis acknowledged after recording the second main-draw win of his career at Wimbledon.

This is Kokkinakis’ fourth five-set victory on the Grand Slam stage this season and his first top-20 win in a major tournament since upsetting world No.13 Ernests Gulbis as a teenage wildcard at Australian Open 2015.

Kokkinakis’ progression also means six Australian men featured in the second round, matching the most to reach this stage at Wimbledon in the past 24 years.

French qualifier Lucas Pouille, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2016, now awaits in the next round.

Should Kokkinakis progress to the third round, Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur looms as a potential opponent.

“I’m not looking ahead. I saved match points today, so I don’t feel like I’m a sure thing to go to round three,” Kokkinakis said.

“It’s a good reward, hopefully, if I win this match. But I’m doing a cliché answer, I’m not looking ahead of Lucas. I’m not going to be like ‘Yeah, I can’t wait for the third round’, then lose and look like an idiot.

“That would be great if it was to happen (facing De Minaur), but Lucas is my priority and I’m not taking a former top-10 player lightly, that’s for sure.”

Earlier today, Aleksandar Vukic and Jordan Thompson both bowed out of the men’s singles competition in the second round. Meanwhile, Daria Saville’s scheduled second-round women’s singles match was postponed until tomorrow.

Aussies in action – Wimbledon

Men’s singles, first round
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d [17] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 4-6 5-7 7-6(9) 6-4 6-4

Men’s singles, second round
[3] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) d Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 7-6(5) 6-2 6-2
Brandon Nakashima (USA) d Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 6-2 6-2

> READ: World No.1 Matt Ebden off to promising start in doubles at Wimbledon 2024

Men’s singles, second round
[9] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Jaume Munar (ESP)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v [30] Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG)
Adam Walton (AUS) v Francisco Comesana (ARG)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v [Q] Lucas Pouille (FRA)

> VIEW: Wimbledon 2024 men’s singles draw

Women’s singles, second round
Daria Saville (AUS) v [18] Marta Kostyuk (UKR)

> VIEW: Wimbledon 2024 women’s singles draw

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