The day session on Wednesday has been a fantastic one for the Aussies at the Adelaide International 2 with Thanasi Kokkinakis and Aleksandar Vukic progressing through to the quarter-finals and will now ironically battle each other in the next round for a spot in the semi-finals.
Kokkinakis defeated American No. 2 seed John Isner 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in an incredible match that went for 2 hours and 42 minutes with no players dropping their service games.
Earlier, Vukic continued his good form with the big-serving 25-year-old Sydneysider getting his revenge on American qualifier Steve Johnson with a tense 6-4, 7-5 victory. Last week Johnson defeated Vukic in the first round 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.at the Adelaide International 1.
With Isner a former World No. 8 and with 16 ATP titles to his name, it was Kokkinakis’ biggest win since defeating former World No. 1 Roger Federer back in the second round at Miami in 2018.
In the battle of the big servers, Isner led the aces 25 to Kokkinakis 15 and the American was not afraid to come to the net with Isner winning 31 points at the net as opposed to seven for the South Aussie.
The Aussie broke down just how tough it is to handle the Isner serve.
"Yeah, I'm stoked. Obviously, I knew going into it it was going to be a super tough match," Kokkinakis said post-match.
"One of the best servers if not the best ever. Got to try to create opportunities when you can.
It's not easy. It's one of the most frustrating things walking side to side, seeing balls go past you."
"I think one of his serves rebounded off the back and hit me in the head. That sums it up.
"Just the height of the ball is just different. Sometimes you feel like you're there, it moves last second. Sometimes you feel like you have a read on his serve on a couple of points and then you don't because it is the same ball toss the other way. Very frustrating."
Kokkinakis had his chances to break Isner a couple of times in the first set with three break points in the 11th game and two break points in the fifth game, ironically Isner saving them both with aces.
Isner going on to win the first set tie break 7-5.
The second set was a mirror of the first with no break of serve and another tie break, this time Kokkinakis took the tie break 7-5 to send it to a decider.
It was another tense final set and amazingly for the third successive set, it went to a tie break with Kokkinakis winning it 7-4.
The roar was deafening when the hometown hero won one of the most extraordinary of matches.
Next up, he faces fellow Aussie Aleks Vukic for a spot in the semis.
"I guess (we have) similar game styles. He's had two good wins playing some big servers the last couple of days. ‘Vuc’ came from college. He's improved a lot the last sort of year or so," Kokkinakis said.
"He's a good dude. We spent a bit of time out in London when we were allowed outside the bubble, we had some nights out.
"We know each other pretty well. He's a good guy and should be a tough match for sure."
It has been a big couple of weeks for Vukic, with his first-ever win against a top 50 ranked player on Monday at the Adelaide International 2 when he defeated Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik. As a result he has been given his second wildcard into the main draw of the 2022 Australian Open.
Vukic said post-match that it was nice to get one back on American Steve Johnson and he is looking forward to the Australian Open next week.
“I thought I played a decent match last week as well,” Vukic said.
“I just got a bit unlucky to lose it to the guy I played today (Johnson)
“Today was just a little bit different.
“It's nice to get the win.
“I can't think of a better preparation for the Australian Open, to be honest.
“I'm grateful getting the wild cards in these events.
“It's giving me the opportunity to play these events, try to make the most of it.”
Vukic was able to break Johnson’s serve twice during the match which proved to be the difference and served 16 aces as opposed to Johnson’s 8.
The Aussie wildcard broke Johnson in the third and 11th games of the match.
The first set was an arm wrestle and with the break of serve Vukic led 5-3 with Johnson serving to stay in the set, despite a set point against him, the American former World No. 21 held serve and it was 5-4.
With Vukic serving brilliantly he went on to hold serve and take the first set 6-4, the Aussie was at 91% (10/11) of points won on first serve.
Games were on serve in the second set when Vukic broke Johnson’s serve in the 11th game to lead 6-5 and he went on to win the set 7-5 and book a spot in the quarter-finals.
In the men’s doubles, South Aussie Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith fought hard and had their chances to push their second-round match to a decider.
The Aussies were up 5-4 in the second set, however, they did not take their opportunities and were defeated by No.3 seeds Wesley Koolhof (Netherlands) and Neal Skupski (Great Britain) 6-7(2), 6-7(3).
Earlier, the upsets continued in the women’s draw with Croatian Ana Konjuh defeating No. 6 seed Czech Marketa Vondrousova in a marathon match 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(3) that went for two hours and 41 minutes
Konjuh will now play American Madison Keys in the quarter-finals who thrashed Czech Tereza Martincova 6-1, 6-3 in one hour and three minutes.
In the men’s second-round singles, No. 4 seed Marin Cilic has set up an enthralling quarter-final clash with American Tommy Paul after Cilic defeated Spain’s Jaume Munar 7-6(6), 6-2.
Paul was too strong for Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 6-4, 7-6(6).
Russian No. 3 seed and last week’s Adelaide International 1 runner up Karen Khachanov progressed to the quarter-finals with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Italian Gianluca Mager.