Thanasi Kokkinakis was obviously going out big, if he was going out at all. However, the Melbourne Park favorite shined when it counted, defeating a fierce Sebastian Ofner in a thrilling first round five-set victory 7-6, 2-6, 6-7, 6-1, 7-6.
With his win, six Australian men—the same as last year despite a higher number in 2024—have advanced to the second round of the competition.
Perhaps the crowd in Melbourne Park loved Kokkinakis’ marathon victory the most. Played in front of a boisterous crowd at John Cain Arena, the see-sawing match ended in an exciting tiebreak to determine the winner.
In the first-to-10 final, Kokkinakis served at 8-7 and attempted a forceful second serve that was just about deemed a let. Instead of going back to his more cautious strategy, he went all out again, setting up two match points and the win with a second serve that reached 199 km/h, which was even faster than his average first serve for the match.
The four-hour, eighteen-minute ordeal began in the sweltering heat of a Melbourne afternoon under clear sky. With the matchup against the 37th-ranked Austrian player in the world, Kokkinakis was hoping to make his fifth appearance in the second round of his home grand slam. However, the draw did not go in his favor.
The Australian had lost in the opening round of the competition in Adelaide and Brisbane due to form issues, but he played well early in a first set that picked up steam.
Before the set ended, Kokkinakis had ordered for more ice to be added to his esky since the temperature was starting to drop into the thirtys. And in the face of an occasionally outstanding opponent, he maintained his composure.
Ofner’s forceful forehand complemented his powerful serve. However, the Austrian missed his first two serves in the tiebreak after holding onto love in consecutive games at the close of the first set, and Kokkinakis took advantage, settling the set with an ace.
Oftner is, nonetheless, used to hardship. Before an injury ended his career, the 27-year-old advanced to the third round of the 2017 Wimbledon tournament. He advanced to the French Open’s fourth round in a breakout year of 2023 and came to Melbourne Park in 2024, just missing the seeds.
In the second, he outran the Australian with a speed of over 210 km/h. In the third set, neither player was able to break through, and Kokkinakis lost the first five games in the tiebreak, giving his opponent the upper hand.