At about 8 minutes past 11 at night at the Australian Open in 2015 an 18 year old Thanasi Kokkinakis stunned world number eleven Ernests Gulbis in five sets.
The crowd in Melbourne as ever supporting their own was nothing short of phenomenal. The noise and the banging of the advertising boards as they helped propel Thanasi to a 5-7 6-0 1-6 7-6 8-6 win over the Latvian.
Sadly for Thanasi the last few years have been hit with injuries for The Australian who has suffered badly with shoulder, abdomen and chest injuries since this big breakthrough win and hasn’t won a match at Melbourne Park since. Thanasi has been announced as a wildcard for the first major of the year having missed out playing in Melbourne last summer.
Thanasi who is now 24 also suffered with a terrible bout of glandular fever. During this time he struggled to eat, sleep and was in pain losing a massive 10kg in weight due to this illness but is now fighting fit and ready to return to tennis!
Thanasi is now ranked at 260 in the world and ready for his comeback and was ‘relieved’ to pick up a wildcard for his home major which he calls his favourite tournament.
Having not being able to play due to Covid-19 the Aussie said the break has helped him. He told 9 News in Melbourne it has been his ”healthiest year” and he ”hasn’t rushed back from injury” and is ready for The Australian Open which could see him play some of the warm-ups at Melbourne Park too.
By the time The Australian Open does come around it will have been 17 months since Thanasi had played a touranment in Tiburon, California at ATP Challenger level where he lost in the final to Tommy Paul. Not having played tennis as he has said has helped him recover and feel healthy but I do feel that a warm-up would be sensible before going straight into best of five.
Now there is a slightly extended calendar until the beginning of April it will hopefully be the chance to see Thanasi plan a few more events but it will be fantastic to see him back at Melbourne Park!