With a parochial crowd behind him, South Aussie wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis has taken out his first ever ATP career title after winning Saturday’s men’s singles final of the Adelaide International 2.
Kokkinakis defeating World No. 58 Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech 6-7(6), 7-6(5, 6-3 in an incredible match that went for two hours and 38 minutes.
It was the fourth match in a row for the SA boy that went for over two hours, his fitness team kept busy ahead of the Australian Open which begins on Monday.
If Kokkinakis can keep his body sound it could be a career best year for the SA local.
Kokkinakis was understandably delighted and full of emotion after winning his first ever ATP title.
“Geez, when I saw that final ball went long, I don't think I've ever felt emotions like that,” Kokkinakis said.
“You grow up playing, you never know if it's ever going to happen.
“I made one final before, I was down a set, down a mini break in the breaker.
“From then on, from 2-0 in the second set, I started to play really good tennis.
“To do it in Adelaide, a court I grew up playing on when I was seven, eight, nine years old, my hometown, in front of friends and family, they've had a tough year, ridden the ups and downs with me, yeah, I'm so happy.”
The first set went for 58 minutes with no breaks of serve, Rinderknech winning it in a tie break 8-6.
In the first match between the pair, Rinderknech got off to the perfect start holding serve with two aces, Kokkinakis not to be outdone and holding serve to even things up at 1-1.
Rinderknech going at 83% (5/6) for first serve points won for his first two service games with one serve reaching 216 km/hr, the Frenchman leading it 2-1 on serve.
Kokkinakis went at 80% (4/5) for first serve points won on his first two service games and made it 2-2.
Games were on serve at 3-3 with several brilliant rallies between the pair, none better than the first point of the seventh game when Kokkinakis thought he had a backhand winner past his opponent only to be matched by an unbelievable low forehand volley by Rinderknech.
There was nothing between them in the first set and with no breaks on serve it headed to a tie break.
It was the sixth tie break of the week for the South Aussie, one in the semi-final against Marin Cilic, one against fellow Aussie Aleksandar Vukic in the quarter-finals and three against American John Isner in the second round.
Kokkinakis had a set point at 6-5 but Rinderknech with a 194kmph serve saved it and eventually went on to take the tie break 8-6.
Kokkinakis smacking eight aces for the set as opposed to six by Rinderknech, both players at 88% (23/26) for first serve points won showing how even the first set was.
The second set was another arm wrestle with both players exchanging some amazing rallies and refusing to give up their serves, resulting in the second tie break in successive sets.
The hometown hero going on to take the tie break 7-5.
With games on serve at 2-2 in the second set, the fifth game was one of the tense of the match so far.
Kokkinakis was up 40-15, however Rinderknech managed to fight back and save two game points.
With the scores at deuce and the pressure on, Kokkinakis smacked two aces in a row, his 11th and 12th of the match respectively and it was 3-2 on serve.
Once again both players were serving superbly, Rinderknech with six aces for the second set and Kokkinakis with five.
For the first two sets, Rinderknech was at 88% (42/48) and Kokkinakis at 89% (49/55) for first serve points won.
Rinderknech led the tie break 2-0 but Kokkinakis won five points in a row including a couple of amazing forehand winners to lead it 5-2.
Rinderknech refused to lie down and facing three set points with the score line at 6-3 he made an unbelievable forehand winner and followed it with an ace to make the crowd extremely nervous.
Kokkinakis maintained his composure and won the next point to take the tie break 7-5 and send it to yet another decider.
Kokkinakis going on to take the tie break 7-5 and send it to yet another decider.
The turning point came early in the final set, Rinderknech became the first player in the match to lose a game on serve when Kokkinakis got the break to lead 1-0.
Kokkinakis then held serve and suddenly he was up 2-0 with all the momentum.
Kokkinakis was playing with immense confidence and after a love game on serve in the sixth game he was ever so close to his first ever ATP title.
Rinderknech refused to give in and down 2-4 with all the pressure on him he held serve to win the game and make it 3-4.
When Kokkinakis held serve, Rinderknech was down 5-3 and serving to stay in the match.
With the home crowd behind him Kokkinakis broke the Frenchman’s serve and went on to take it 6-3 and the championship was his.