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Kokkinakis Rallies From Brink To Deny Monfils

Frenchman was playing first match since Roland Garros
July 25, 2023
Thanasi Kokkinakis rallies from a set down to defeat Gael Monfils in the first round of the Atlanta Open. By ATP Staff

Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis recovered from a first-set blowout and a dire position in the final-set tie-break to stun Frenchman Gael Monfils to reach the second round of the Atlanta Open Monday night.

After a series of loose forehand errors in the deciding-set tie-break, the World No. 86 gathered his composure after a warning for racquet abuse and rallied from 0/4 and 3/5 to close out a 6-1- 3-6, 7-6(5) victory on his first match point.

"At 0/4 I thought it was pretty much over... From there it's one point at a time," Kokkinakis said. "In a tie-break you can go down quickly and can come back quickly. I got a point on his serve and then two on mine and all of a sudden he's feeling the pressure.

“It was pretty stressful, especially in the first set, which wasn’t much fun He posed a lot of challenges and he is one of the quickest players on tour. I can’t get a ball by him most of the time."

Monfils was playing his first match since withdrawing from his second-round match with Holger Rune at Roland Garros due to a left wrist tear.

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Kokkinakis' victory was the 27-year-old’s first tour-level match win since he reached the third round of Roland Garros. He next faces fellow Aussie and second seed Alex de Minaur.

"Demon and I are good mates. We share Davis Cup together, we train a little bit together," Kokkinakis said. "He's a hell of a player and he's leading the way for us Aussies. He's the defending champion here in Atlanta so he obviously likes the conditions.

"I know it won't be easy. I practised with him the other day and he gave me a spanking. It should be a fun match."

Kokkinakis, who improved to 12-9 on the season, put 76 per cent of first serves into play and won 76 per cent of those points.

Eighth-seeded American J. J. Wolf raced through his opener with Chinese Taipei qualifier Jason Jung 6-2. 6-1 to claim his first career win in Atlanta.

Wolf, who won 81 per cent of first-serve points and saved the lone break point he faced, will next play the winner of 18-year-old Newport finalist Alex Michelsen and serve/volley specialist Maxime Cressy.

Sydney's World No. 82 Aleksandar Vukic earlier in the day defeated NCAA champion and former University of Georgia Bulldog Ethan Quinn 7-6(5), 6-3.

South African qualifier Lloyd Harris rallied from a set down to beat Australian Jams Duckworth 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 after firing 18 aces. The former World No. 31, who is now outside the Top 200 after missing the final six months of the 2022 season following wrist surgery, recently pushed Christopher Eubanks to a third-set tie-break in the semi-finals of Mallorca.

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