Thanasi Kokkinakis has gone some way towards vanquishing last year’s heartbreaking Australian Open loss to Andy Murray by claiming a typical five-set victory in his Melbourne Park opener.
A year on from his 4am exit after a marathon with five-time runner-up Murray, Kokkinakis outlasted Austrian Sebastian Ofner 7-6 (7-1) 2-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-6 (10-8) in front of a raucous Kia Arena crowd.
In the process, casinos australia online the 27-year-old teed up a tantalising clash with 13th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Marton Fucsovics earlier on Tuesday.
The gruelling four hour, 18 minute five-setter, coming back from a two-sets-to-one deficit, brought out the best out of the Australian.
“Mate, I wish I could do it easier but I can’t,” he said.
“I’ve got the mental focus of a three-year-old.
“However I can get it done, you guys (the crowd) are amazing. Without you, no chance I’m winning.”
Kokkinakis let last year’s second-round clash with Murray slip over the course of five hours and 45 minutes – the second-longest match in Open history.
When asked what was going on inside his head during the Ofner match, he said: “You don’t wanna know.
“Battling some serious demons, that’s for sure.
“I had a tough end to last year, tough start to this year and I know it’s the first round but this one meant a lot.
“Obviously last year that one hurt. I had a couple of junkies come up to me at Crown Casino ripping me for that loss against Murray.
“Didn’t enjoy that too much but glad I could make amends and win a five-setter here.”
Kokkinakis battled through a see-sawing match tiebreak to reach the second round for a fifth time.
The South Australian landed two match points and while Ofner managed to save the first on serve he hit the second on Kokkinakis’s serve into the net.
Kokkinakis will attempt to reach the third round for the first time when he faces No.13 seed Dimitrov.
“Grigor’s a hell of a player, been doing this for a while now and he is in some great form right now,” Kokkinakis said.
“But yeah, I back myself … I’ve beaten high-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 – hopefully I can do that.”
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