Kokkinakis stuns top seed Rublev to reach quarterfinals

11 January 2023, by Vivienne Christie

Thanasi Kokkinakis has thrilled home supporters with another giant-killing run in Adelaide, with the Australian stunning no.1 seed Andrey Rublev to move into the quarterfinals for a second straight year.

The South Australian local, who is defending champion of the Adelaide International 2 tournament, required just under two hours to claim his 6-4 3-6 6-3 win.

Victory over the world No.6 was a third top-10 win for Kokkinakis, and his first since March 2018 when he stunned then-world No.1 Roger Federer in Miami. “He’s a hell of a player, ” he commented of Rublev. “A ripper bloke as well.”

Kokkinakis was delighted to add to some life-changing memories on his home court in Adelaide, after winning his maiden ATP title at the tournament last year.

“I’ve had my best memories on this court, Last year was an incredible feeling. I think it’s something you only dream of as a kid,” Kokkinakis said.

“To play in front of (this crowd) in this atmosphere, every night, it’s incredible.”

So too was an imperious serving display from the 26-year-old, who fired 17 aces, many unreturnable serves and recorded only a single double fault.

“It’s a big part of my game,” Kokkinakis noted.  “If I’m serving well I feel like I have a chance to beat a lot of guys.”

The South Australian next faces Miomir Kecmanovic, who ended Jason Kubler’s perfect start to the 2023 season in three tight sets.

Following last week’s wins over Dan Evans and Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the United Cup in Sydney, the Queenslander was a first-round winner over Tomas Martin Etcheverry in Adelaide on Monday.

But after Kubler took the first set against Kecmanovic, the world No.29 from Serbia gradually edged ahead. After taking the second set in a tiebreak, he withstood a significant challenge from the world No.86 Australian.

The sixth-seeded Kecmanovic completed his two-hour, 33-minute victory when he broke the Kubler serve for the first and only time in the final game.

John Millman will turn his attention to a ninth main-draw campaign at the Australian Open, after exiting to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The 33-year-old Queenslander won three straight matches in Adelaide, coming through qualifying and upsetting Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round.

Davidovich Fokina was largely unruffled in his straight-sets progression against Millman, claiming his 6-3 6-3 in an hour and 13 minutes.  It was nevertheless an encouraging week for the world No.148 Australian, who saved two match points to overcome the 38th-ranked Ramos-Vinolas, marking Millman’s his best match win in almost a year.

Karen Khachanov and Jack Draper will meet for the second time in as many weeks in Adelaide, after they each claimed straight-sets wins at The Drive today. But while last week’s meeting at the ATP 250 tournament occurred in the second round, they’ll face off on the quarterfinals this week.

Draper, a 21-year-old from Britain, claimed an upset win over No.8 seed Tommy Paul to progress to the third ATP-level quarterfinal of his career. It continues a stunning rise for the left-hander, who climbed more than 200 rankings places to make his top-40 debut last year.

The lefthander recovered from an early 1-4 deficit against his American opponent, claiming five consecutive games to secure the first set. After gaining an early break against Paul in the second, Draper saved two break points in the extended eighth game, before securing his 6-4 6-4 victory in an hour and 32 minutes.

Known for his big serve, the 193cm Draper served 10 aces in an all-round impressive display.

There was also a recovery of sorts from Khachanov, who progressed over world Marc-Andrea Huesler. The 26-year-old, who is the No.3 seed in the men’s field, dropped serve in the second game as the world No.55 Swiss showcased his creative shot-making. But recovery was swift for Khachanov, who closed out a 6-4 6-4 victory in 80 minutes.

South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon claimed an upset win over.No.2 seed Pablo Carreno Busta to reach the quarterfinals, claiming a 3-6 6-4 6-4 win over two hours and 22 minutes. Kwon next faces Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, who overcame Mackenzie McDonald.

Roberta Bautista Agut also progressed in Adelaide, the No.4 seed eliminating Robin Haase in three sets.