The night session on the fourth day of the Adelaide International 2 was another cracker with hometown hero and wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis progressing through to his second semi-final in two weeks with a brilliant win over fellow Aussie wildcard Aleksandar Vukic 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2. There were several unbelievable rallies between the pair in an epic contest that lasted two hours and 13 minutes.
Kokkinakis' fitness was tested once again on Thursday evening, having to come from a set down for the second match in a row. Kokkinakis will now take on Croatian No.4 seed Marin Cilic for a spot in Saturday's final after Cilic defeated American Tommy Paul in a fantastic battle that went for one hour and 54 minutes 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
Kokkinakis ended up serving 17 aces as opposed to Vukic’s 10 and finished with an impressive 86% (51/59) for first serve points won.
He was understandably delighted about making two semi-finals in two weeks and said his body was feeling good considering all the long games he has been playing.
“Yeah, it's massive,” he said in his post-match interview.
“Yeah, super stoked for the start of the year obviously.
My goal is to try and stay healthy and give myself a chance, after having a deep run last week, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull up.
Mentally I was cooked after last week, but if I can get physically to a point where I am okay to start next week at the Australian Open, hopefully with the home crowd and everything, I'll find it.
I am not regretting my decision at all to play this week, l might in a couple days, but right now I'm enjoying it.”
Vukic, the 25-year-old Sydneysider was not able to break Kokkinakis' serve for the whole match and incredibly Kokkinakis now has not lost a game on serve since his semi-final loss last week at the Adelaide International 1 to French veteran Gael Monfils.
The third game of the first set was enthralling, with games on serve at 1-1 Vukic saved four break points.
Kokkinakis took it to 0-40 with a brilliant backhand passing shot that clipped the line. Down advantage and a fourth break point, Vukic saved it again and then with an ace all of a sudden it was advantage Vukic. The New South Welshman then finished it off with a forehand smash volley to lead 2-1. At 4-4, the South Aussie had two more break points but yet again Vukic saved them, this time with his fifth ace of the match. Kokkinakis had three more break points in the eleventh game but Vukic saved them yet again with ace number seven to lead 6-5. The SA boy held serve again and went to a tie-break, the fourth in a row for Kokkinakis. Vukic won it 7-5, claiming the opening set. Amazingly, such was Kokkinakis' serving domination that he's only faced three break points in six sets during the Adelaide International 2. The physio gave Kokkinakis a medical examination and it seemed to inspire the South Aussie wildcard. In the fifth game of the second set, Kokkinakis was up 15-40, however, Vukic once again refused to be broken on serve and led 3-2.
The turning point of the match came in the eighth game when Kokkinakis finally broke Vukic’s serve to lead 5-3 and the crowd went crazy, the local SA boy going on to win the second set 6-3 and taking it to another decider.
With the crowd behind him and with all the momentum, Kokkinakis broke Vukic’s serve twice in the third and fifth game to lead 4-1.
When Kokkinakis held serve again he led 5-1 and all the pressure was on Vukic to hold serve which he was able to do and made it 5-2.
Kokkinakis stayed composed when serving for the match and went on to win the final set 6-2.
It will be an American semi-final tomorrow between former World No.7 Madison Keys and No.3 seed Cori “Coco” Gauff after Keys defeated Russian No.8 seed Ludmilla Samsonova 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 on Thursday evening.
Earlier Gauff defeated Croatian Ana Konjuh 6-3, 6-4.
Keys served 12 aces for the match as opposed to Samsonova’s seven, and the power of the American’s groundstrokes and serve proved to be the difference in the end.
Keys and Samsonova were yet to drop a set going into their quarter-final match, however, it was all Keys in the first set taking it 6-3 in only 29 minutes.
Keys got the early break and when she held serve, she was up 4-1. The Russian No.8 seed had no answer for Keys' power and she went on to win the first set comfortably 6-3 with an impressive 79% (11/14) for first serve points won.
The match turned in the second set and it was Samsonova that had the game on her terms, she broke Keys early in the second and it proved to be the difference, going on to win it 6-3.
Games were on serve in the first seven games until the eighth game when the match turned again, this time Keys broke Samsonova’s serve and took a 5-3 lead.
Keys then served for the set and the match and ended up taking the decider 6-3 to set up a mouth-watering contest with her fellow American in the semi-finals.