Thanasi Kokkinakis was touted as a true rising star of the sport, being grouped with the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev, and Dominic Thiem as one of the most promising up and comers. While the other young talents in the sport have been making waves on tour, Kokkinakis has been sidelined with injury, only able dream of the same successes. However, this week in Los Cabos, the 21-year-old achieved a career best performance making his own headlines around the world.
Kokkinakis suffered a left shoulder injury at the end of 2015, causing him to miss the majority of last season. The young Australian returned midway through last year to take part in the Rio 2016 Olympics, only to lose in the first round against Gastao Elias 7-6(4), 7-6(3). A pulled pectoral muscle saw the Aussie miss the remainder of the season, triggering his ranking to drop from as high as #69 to no ranking at all in a matter of months.
Kokkinakis knew that it would be a tough road back to the top echelon of the game. The right-hander felt as though tennis was his calling, his purpose in life, so being away from the sport sent the young star into a state of depression. However, Kokkinakis battled through this adversity and made his comeback earlier this year. With his body not up to par to compete in singles, the big serving Aussie decided to enter doubles with fellow compatriot Jordan Thompson. The Australian duo exceeded expectations winning the Brisbane International in Kokkinakis’ first tournament back.
Since this triumph back in January, Kokkinakis has struggled to find consistent success in 2017; however, he has shown why tennis experts rated him so highly with wins over current Top 10 player Milos Raonic and Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny. This being said, the full force of the Adelaide-born professional was showcased in Los Cabos this week.
Currently #454 in the world, Kokkinakis was the lowest ranked player entering Los Cabos this week. This did not stop the young Australian, as he made his way through the tournament reaching his first ever ATP World Tour quarter-final, semi-final and final. On route to this career best performance, the 6’5’’ superstar defeated #1 seed Tomas Berdych, along with fellow rising stars, Americans Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe. Kokkinakis unfortunately fell to the powerful Sam Querrey 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, in the hotly contested final.
“I showed some glimpses of good tennis this year, so to do that consistently this week in Los Cabos means a lot,” Kokkinakis commented after his semi-final win.
Although Kokkinakis couldn’t capture his maiden singles title, the Aussie let the world know that he was well and truly back and ready to compete with the world’s best once again. Keeping injury free seems to be Kokkinakis’ biggest issue, but if he can maintain his health there is no telling what the ceiling is for this young prodigy.