Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a scare from Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis to win 5/7 (5); 6/4; 6/3; 6/7(5); 6/4 in a thriller of two players with Greek names at the on-going Australian Open.
The Greek fifth-seed player pulled through by a single break of serve in the final set after losing a match point in the fourth. In the women’s event, Elina Svitolina of Sweden ended the run of America’s teenage sensation, Coco Gauff 6/4; 6/3.
The lanky 23-year old Thannasi was the sentimental favourite, as the come-back kid featuring in a tournament after years of multiple ailments interrupted the manifestation of his abundant talent. He won the first set tiebreaker by seven points to five. In the second set, he matched Stefanos in serving until he conceded a break in the fifth game. Stefanos consolidated the break to 4-2 lead while Thanasi took the seventh game at love. Each player held serve and Stefanos took the second set 6/4
In the third set, Stefanos broke his opponent’s serve in the first game and held serve for 2-0. The margin increased to 4-1 on the second break of serve. Stefanos raced to 5-1 on his ninth ace of the match. Although Thanasi had two game points, he lost the seventh game and the set, 6-1 after which he took a break to go into the locker room.
Stefanos delivered his 10th ace to win the opening game of the fourth set and his opponent registered his 11th ace to level one-all. The game proceeded routinely with serve and Thanasi saved a match point in the 10th game and took the match to a tie break. Stefanos committed a double fault on the first point. After taking the third point on a mini-break, he lost two service points for 5-1 at the changeover. Thanasi dropped a service point and Stefanos held to reduce tally and leveled at five points apiece. Thanasi took the tie break by seven points to five.
Tsitsipas won the fifth set on a single break of serve. Kokkinakis, however, will remain in Melbourne Park to play men’s doubles with his partner Nick Kyrgios. The duo will meet the pair of South Africa’s Lloyd Harris and Austria’s Julian Knowle in the first round.
Rafael Nadal ended Michael Mmoh’s march, 6/1; 6/4; 5/2 in the Nigerian-American player’s debut on the famous Rod Laver Arena.