Thanasi Kokkinakis defeated Arthur Rinderknech on Saturday to clinch dream maiden ATP Tour title at the Adelaide International 2. The 25-year-old earned a hard fought 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-3 victory in a big serving battle lasting two hours and 38 minutes. Kokkinakis, who had defeated Croatian Marin Cilic to reach the final at home turf, secured a winning break in the first game of the third set to electrify an already charged Adelaide crowd after neither player conjured a breakpoint opportunity in the first two sets.
“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.” @TKokkinakis
— Adelaide International (@AdelaideTennis) January 15, 2022
It’s an emotional and morale boosting victory for the Australian, who reached a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 69 as a 19-year-old in 2015, before his career was derailed by a series of injuries.
“I wouldn’t want to win my first title anywhere else,” said Kokkinakis, who out-aced his opponent 18 to 15. “To my family, friends and coaches, what a ride it’s been. You have seen me at my lowest lows and now the highest high. It’s been a serious journey. For now I am so happy.
“I’ve been playing and practising on this court since I was eight or nine years old, coming here before school every day. I love this court so much.”
Kokkinakis came into the tournament on the back of a semi-final showing the week before in Adelaide. He will now turn his attention to Australian Open 2022, starting next week, at which he required a wild card to enter the main draw.
The Australian had a tough path to the title, having had to survive three tie-breaks against John Isner in the second round, a come-from-behind win over countryman Aleksandar Vukic in the last 8 stage and a classic battle to get the better of Cilic in the semi-final. Both players were dominant on the serve and they had dropped serve just twice coming into the final.
Kokkinakis went down a mini-break at the beginning of the second set tie-break but regained the momentum with a series of heavy forehands and took the match to a third set, where he secured the decisive break in the first game. He also broke the Frenchman Rinderknech in the final game of the match.
Rinderknech, had defeated compatriot Corentin Moutet to seal the final berth. The 26-year-old ended 2021 at career-high No. 58 in the ATP Rankings after advancing to the Kitzbuehel semi-finals and by reaching six other ATP Tour quarter-finals en route to bagging 18 tour-level wins.