It has been a magnificent day for the host nation at Adelaide International 2 on Wednesday, with Aleksandar Vukic and Thanasi Kokkinakis enjoying significant wins to set up an all-Australian clash.
Vukic progressed to the first ATP-level quarterfinal of his career following a 6-4 7-5 win over qualifier Steve Johnson, avenging his defeat to the American in the first round of last week’s Adelaide event.
Kokkinakis then upset No.2 seed John Isner for his first win over a top-25 player in almost four years.
The 145th-ranked wildcard beat Isner 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 7-6(4) to advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight week at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre.
“I’m stoked. Obviously I knew going into it, it was going to be a super tough match. One of the best servers if not the best ever. Got to try to create opportunities when you can,” said Kokkinakis, who finished with another clean stat sheet of 47 winners against just 14 unforced errors.
“Thought I played pretty good all the way through. I thought I was pretty solid. I don’t think he had a breakpoint on my serve, which means I was taking care of my side well.
“We’ll see how I pull up tomorrow. Another long match today. But I feel good. I’m in the best shape physically I’ve been in for a while.
“(A) great off-season set me up for this, playing these matches. This is ultimately where I want to be day in, day out.”
Having won five of his first six matches to open the season, Kokkinakis will now face friend and fellow wildcard Vukic, who pounded 16 aces past Johnson to win in just one hour and 16 minutes.
“I guess (we have) similar game styles. He’s had two good wins playing some big servers the last couple days. He’s improved a lot the last sort of year or so,” Kokkinakis commented.
“He’s a good dude. We spent a bit of time out in London when we were allowed outside the bubble, we had some nights out. We know each other pretty well. He’s a good guy and should be a tough match for sure.”
Vukic, currently ranked 160th, is just a few spots shy of his career-high mark of No.156.
Like Kokkinakis, he has been awarded a wildcard into next week’s Australian Open, and his preparation for the year’s first major gathers impressive momentum.
Having reached the second round at two ATP events in 2021, the 25-year-old Sydneysider took an extra, important step on Wednesday.
“I can’t think of a better preparation, to be honest,” Vukic said.
“I’m grateful getting the wild cards in these events. It’s giving me the opportunity to play these events, try to make the most of it.
“I’m going to try and focus on every match here, see where I can go from here.”
In Wednesday night’s session on Centre Court, top seed Gael Monfils, who won last week’s Adelaide International 1, was forced to retire early in the third set of his match against Brazilian lucky loser Thiago Monteiro.
Unfortunately Gael Monfils has had to retire due to a neck injury. Thiago Monteiro moves on and will play Corentin Moutet in the quarterfinals.#AdelaideTennis
— Adelaide International (@AdelaideTennis) January 12, 2022
Monteiro goes on to face French qualifier Corentin Moutet, who brushed Marton Fucsovics aside for the loss of just four games.
Also advancing to the quarterfinals on Wednesday were third seed Karen Khachanov and fourth seed Marin Cilic.
Khachanov, who beat Cilic to reach last week’s Adelaide International 1 final, saw off Italian Gianluca Mager 7-5 6-3, while Cilic was a 7-6(6) 6-2 victor over Jaume Munar.
Cilic will next take on the in-form Tommy Paul – who after beating Benjamin Bonzi in straight sets has now won 12 of his past 14 matches – while Khachanov plays France’s Arthur Rinderknech for a place in the semis.