Thanasi Kokkinakis has stormed into the Australian Open round of 64 for the fifth time after a 7-6(1), 2-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, 7-6 [10-8] victory over Sebastien Offner.
The 27-year-old Aussie overturned his deciding set fortunes from twelve months ago where he bowed out of the event after a near six-hour battle with Andy Murray.
“I thought my composure was great. I know the other match last year was five hours and 45 minutes and this one was over four, but I’m definitely a little less sore and a little more pep in my step after that win,” Kokkinakis told the media.
After clinching the opening set in a tiebreak, Kokkinakis’ level dropped, gifting his Austrian opponent an opportunity to cease control of the match.
Falling behind two sets to one, the Aussie found his best tennis to force a decider and electrify the crowd inside John Cain Arena.
An even fifth set saw both players hold serve throughout, with all roads leading to a match tiebreak to decide the affair.
Having already lost two Aussies in this format during the 2024 tournament – in Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata – fans were eager to see Kokkinakis progress and were in full voice on a warm Tuesday evening at Melbourne Park.
“The crowd lifted me up. They were incredible the whole match.”
The 27-year-old will now face Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov who will enter the clash on a six-match winning streak after triumphing in Brisbane last week.
“He’s playing incredible tennis. He's in close to the form of his career, I think. He's always in great shape and a great mover,” Kokkinakis said post-match.
It will be the pair’s first meeting and a challenge the Aussie is very much ready for.
“I back myself. I’ve played guys like him before. One-handed backhand,” the Aussie said.
“I'm going to try to be aggressive and take it to him and kind of hopefully make him feel uncomfortable out there.
“It's going to be a very tough match, and I'm going to bring my best.”