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Thanasi Kokkinakis was competing in the Australian Open second round for the first time since 2015.

Kokkinakis: 'Matches Like This Are Why I Keep Believing'

Australian falls to fifth seed Tsitsipas in five sets

Thanasi Kokkinakis walked off Rod Laver Arena on Thursday night with his head held high, happy that his injury-ravaged body had held up over five sets.

Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Kokkinakis 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-4 over four hours and 32 minutes. It was his first match on the main show court at Melbourne Park since he was a bright-eyed 17-year-old and came up against Rafael Nadal in 2017.

“It was incredible,” said Kokkinakis. “I will take what I can get and just having that energy and that support again was tremendous. The court's unreal. I just loved every minute of it, apart from the result.

“Matches like this are the reason why I believe I can still do it and why I have tried to come back so many times and keep giving myself a chance… If I can just keep getting in better shape physically and keep being able to play matches there is no reason I can't be where he is.

“That's what I'm going for. I've got a long way to go, a lot of work to do, but I think today proved to me – and a few other people – that I have still got it in me. I'm going to try to use this as motivation and keep kicking forward.”

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Kokkinakis' catalogue of setbacks, since rising to No. 69 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in June 2015, meant he hasn’t got a clothing sponsor at the Australian Open and wore $6 tee-shirts from Kmart for his matches. But the 24-year-old played well above his current position of No. 267.

“If I get a healthy year, I'll come in [here in] 12 months’ time and I'll be in much better shape and hopefully have a lot more matches under my belt with a higher ranking,” said Kokkinakis. “I'm just excited for the year ahead.

“I have shown I've got to do a little bit more work and get in a bit better shape to compete with these guys playing day-in and day-out at tournaments. So that's my goal and [to] stay healthy… If I'm healthy, I feel like my short-term goal is to be Top 100 and go from there, because I think I can obviously go a lot higher than that.”

Kokkinakis, who is partnering Nick Kyrgios in the Australian Open doubles tournament, will get back to training soon and decide upon his tournament schedule.

“I think I will do a little bit of a training block before I head overseas,” said Kokkinakis. “The way I have pulled up, I'm stoked with that, and obviously matches are better than anything. But there are a few things I need to try and do before I go overseas. [My coach has] been wanting me to go South America and just grind on clay for six years straight.

“I do not mind the free points I get on a hard court as well. That's why I'm tossing it up. That could definitely be a play. It's also good to build the resilience in the body and go into the clay. There is definitely a chance of that.

“I've got a couple of protected rankings, but I've got to pick and choose when I want to use them. If anyone wants to give me a wild card, thank you!”