Hometown hero Thanasi Kokkinakis has played a magnificent match to claim his first ATP title on his home court.
The Australian said after the match that he had been going to Memorial Drive since he was around eight and he could not be happier to have won his first title on that court.
“I remember coming to this court after school every day. I love it so much,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to win my first title anywhere else.”
France’s towering Arthur Rinderknech didn’t play a bad match in his first tour-level final, it was that Kokkinakis played a great match to grab the trophy.
The opening set was tightly contested with most games easily won. It was decided with a tiebreaker that saw neither player get two points ahead of their opponent until Rinderknech got a mini-break to win the set 7-6(6).
The second set was much like the first with neither player earning a break. It again would be decided by a tiebreaker.
“Coming into that tiebreak I wanted to be aggressive. I stood back and decided ‘He’s going to have to beat me with pace’. I was thinking if I see a forehand, I’m going to go for it.”
Rinderknech got the first mini-break and was out to a 2-0 lead. From there Kokkinakis took control. He was striking the ball with authority and hit multiple forehand winners to storm back to lead 5-2.
The Frenchman saved two set points before Kokkinakis was able to close out the breaker on his serve.
In the opening game of the third set it was Kokkinakis that had a look at his first break point opportunity against his opponent.
The Australian was able to convert and with the vocal hometown crowd on his side, Kokkinakis was looking on track to claim the title.
The world-ranked no. 145 Kokkinakis held to love to consolidate the break. His next two service games were also won to love. He was looking good.
Just to make things more comfortable, the Australian was able to jump out to 0-40 in the ninth game. Rinderknech saved one championship point with some good hitting, but Kokkinakis was not to be denied. He closed out the match 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes.
Kokkinakis served at 77% of first serves in and won 90% of first-serve points. He also fired down 18 Aces to 15.
The Australian was able to limit his unforced errors when at the same time he was really going after some big forehands which helped take control of the match.
After many setbacks along the way it is great to see Kokkinakis claim an ATP title, and to do that in front of friends and family on his homecourt makes it even sweeter.
Speaking after the win an emotional Kokkinakis thanked his family, coaches, and supporters.
“What a ride it’s been. My family and my coaches, you guys have seen me at my lowest of lows and now my highest of highs. It’s been a journey and this is just the beginning.
“I feel like you guys in the crowd should have half of this trophy. You were unbelievable in every single match.”
Kokkinakis jumps to no. 103 in the rankings after two memorable weeks in Adelaide.
He now heads to Melbourne full of confidence but it is always tough to back up a title win with a good performance at a Grand Slam the following week.