Thanasi Kokkinakis keeps Adelaide International title defence alive

Winning back-to-back Adelaide International titles, not his preparation for the Australian Open, was at the forefront of Thanasi Kokkinakis’ mind after his stunning win over world No.6 Andrey Rublev on Wednesday night.

The hometown hero will have won five matches in six days if he is holding up the champion’s trophy at Memorial Drive on Saturday night, with the Australian Open kicking off the following Monday.

That might not seem like the best physical lead-in to his home grand slam, but Kokkinakis believes winning in front of his family and friends is the best form of preparation.

“I‘m not taking these matches for granted on home soil in Adelaide,” Kokkinakis said.

“Obviously, you‘d love to have some preparation going into the Aussie Open, a few days’ rest and to time it out (better).

“But I’ll take these wins every day of the week, beating quality players, playing at that level.

“I don‘t know how many Adelaide Internationals there are going to be, so I’m trying to take in every moment.

“I love playing here … I’ll worry about next week when it comes to it and just keep trying to get through my matches this week.”

Kokkinakis lost in straight sets to German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of last year’s Australian Open after claiming his maiden ATP title in Adelaide.

He said titles could come more often if he got to play at home more where he feels embraced by the crowds and doesn’t have to battle home sickness.

“To see how they keep turning up for me, what a draw it feels like, how I‘ve been kind of embraced by people of Adelaide, to be honest, then coming out and supporting me. You really want to give it your all for them,” he said.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else. Trust me, I‘d love if there were more tournaments in Australia. Probably what I struggle with the most. That‘s a luxury, pretty well-documented, a lot of Europeans and Americans have, a lot of tournaments in their backyard.

“When I have the chance to play in Australia or play at home, I’m going to try to make the most of it.”

The win sets up a quarterfinal meeting with sixth-seeded Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, ranked No.28 in the world, on Thursday night.

“He’s another quality player, not as highly ranked as Rublev, but he’s bloody good,” Kokkinakis said.

“I’m going to have to bring my ‘A game’ again.

“Just because I beat someone ranked No.6 doesn‘t mean I’m going to beat Kecmanovic.

“I know where my ranking is at, if I dip my level I’m not going to be able to play with these guys, so I got to keep my level up and keep playing well.”

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