Kokkinakis US-bound to train with top-100 tennis stars
By Marc McGowan 23/10/2013 20:51:00
OUTSTANDING South Australian prospect Thanasi Kokkinakis will skip the Australian Open wildcard playoff in December for a six-week training camp in the United States.
The 17-year-old, a two-time grand slam junior boys’ singles runner-up, will train alongside top-100 players Tommy Haas, Sam Querrey and Jack Sock as he prepares for the Australian summer.
“The plan is to go to America to train for six weeks during the wildcard playoff here, so I’m not going to play that,” Kokkinakis said.
“I’m training there with guys like Haas, Querrey and Jack Sock.
“Six weeks over there just to build my body and get ready for the summer will be good for me.”
Kokkinakis announced last week he was going to compete in the World Tennis Challenge, an exhibition team event, at Memorial Dve in Adelaide from January 7 to 9.
He will then attempt to qualify for the Australian Open.
Kokkinakis is in Melbourne this week for an ATP Challenger event and today progressed to round two – and a clash with top seed Matt Ebden – with a 6-3 6-3 win over Japanese qualifier Kento Takeuchi.
Kokkinakis will also contest next week’s Traralgon ATP Challenger.
It was the second time he has beaten Takeuchi, the first coming at Bundaberg, Queensland, just days before his 15th birthday two years ago.
“I actually played him once before and he was my first point I got when I was 14, so I have a good memory against him and felt like I knew how to play him,” Kokkinakis said.
“I just really wanted to get on court, because we’ve waited a few days (due to rain) and it was a bit frustrating.
“He liked the ball low, so indoors suited him, but it helped my serve a lot. So when I got that big, hard shot in, I was able to win the point pretty quickly.”
Kokkinakis displayed all of the raw power which has experts labelling him one of Australia’s brightest talents in years.
Todd Woodbridge said last week teenagers Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios would challenge Bernard Tomic as Australia's best player in the next decade.
The world No.661, who will rise further in the rankings thanks to his latest success, clubbed winners at will on both wings and served 11 aces in the 78-minute contest.
“That’s how I have to play and there’s a lot to play for as well, with a big summer coming up,” Kokkinakis said.
“You can’t really be tight, so I was just trying to play free. I’ve played a lot of matches recently, so that helped me.
“I’m not used to playing that many matches, because of my (back) injury ... (but) I’m playing pretty good.”
Kokkinakis qualified for consecutive Challengers in the United States last month and reached the second round at both.