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Kokkinakis wins shot at Djokovic


Adelaide’s Thanasi Kokkinakis “can’t wait” after breaking his Wimbledon hoodoo to set up a second-round blockbuster with three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.

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Five long years since his last appearance at the All England Club, Kokkinakis continued his 2022 renaissance with a watershed 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 7-5 victory over Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak on Monday.

After two previous first-round defeats, plus two unsuccessful qualifying campaigns, the 26-year-old is finally savouring his maiden win on London’s hallowed grass courts.

“I’m super happy with how the result panned out. A lot of doubt coming into the tournament. Wasn’t sure how I’d pull up, how I’d play, if I would even play,” Kokkinakis said, having hurt his left knee in an on-court tumble at Surbiton three weeks ago.

The South Australian’s rich reward is a show-court showdown on Wednesday with Djokovic, the 20-times grand slam champion chasing a seventh Wimbledon crown – and fourth straight.

“Can’t wait. Can’t wait for the opportunity,” Kokkinakis said.

“Definitely was in the back of my mind playing that match. I obviously saw the draw.

“I’m not one of those people that doesn’t look ahead. I knew I had a tough match obviously first, but definitely knew what was at stake.”

Djokovic earlier opened his title bid with a scratchy 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Korean Soonwoo Kwon under a closed roof on centre court.

Kokkinakis, who also landed his maiden ATP title in January in Adelaide, was the only Australian winner on a rain-marred day one of the championships.

James Duckworth’s much-anticipated centre-court battle with Andy Murray ended in a gallant 4-6 6-3 6-2- 6-4 defeat to Britain’s two-time Wimbledon champion and former world No.1 Andy Murray.

John Millman bowed out with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 6-4 loss to Serbia’s 25th seed Miomir Kecmanovic, while brave Sydney qualifier Max Purcell fell to Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in a three-hour, 53-minute epic.

Playing without a big toenail on his right foot, Purcell rallied back from two sets down to force a decider, only to succumb 6-3 7-6 (7-0) 4-6 4-6 6-4 in his first-ever five-set encounter.

Maddison Inglis couldn’t extend her run from qualifying either, going down 5-7 6-3 6-4 to Hungarian Dalma Galfi.

Astra Sharma will resume her tussle with Germany’s Tatjana Maria on Tuesday after the match was suspended under fading light at one set apiece, with the Australian to serve at 6-4 3-6.

Fellow qualifier Zoe Hives and wildcard Daria Saville had their scheduled matches postponed until day two.

 – AAP

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