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"I don't think I'll be perfect for a little bit": Kokkinakis's long road back


Thanasi Kokkinakis admits he’s still fighting his injury demons as he attempts to kickstart his burgeoning tennis career.

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The South Australian played just one match in 2016 due to shoulder, groin and pectoral problems and subsequently saw his world ranking plummet from 69 to 993.

However, thanks to his 12-month protected ranking status, Kokkinakis is still able to compete at the grand slams and a selection of ATP events where he’s not granted a wildcard.

Queen’s Club handed the 21-year-old a place in their main draw last week, but that was where the good news ended after he was paired against world No.6 Milos Raonic.

The big-serving Canadian reached the final at both Queen’s and Wimbledon last year, losing each time to world No.1 Andy Murray, who’s been practising with Kokkinakis in London this week.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Kokkinakis said of facing Raonic in what will be their first encounter.

“I’ve played him a couple of times in practice and felt OK. But grass is a bit of a different ball game.

“He obviously plays well here and with his serve it puts pressure on your serve.

“I want to try and get him in as many baseline rallies as possible.”

Kokkinakis showed flashes of his quality in last month’s French Open, taking world No.9 Kei Nishikori to four sets in only his second Tour match after shoulder surgery.

However, he revealed it took him almost four days to recover from his Roland Garros exertions and admits his progress will be slow as his body readjusts to the rigours of elite-level tennis.

“My fitness is not perfect and I don’t think I’ll be perfect for a little bit,” Kokkinakis said.

“It’s improving but I still have a few niggles here and there but my support staff are doing everything to keep me on the court.

“You can play as many sets you want in practice, but it doesn’t compare to the intensity of a match.

“I am really setting up for the hardcourt season at the back end of the year and I just want to make sure I am at the Aussie Open and I am 100 per cent good to go.”


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