Kokkinakis lands third big win in Adelaide

Murray Wenzel |

Thanasi Kokkinakis will face Adelaide International top seed and childhood hero Gael Monfils in his first ATP semi-final since 2017.

The hometown favourite again had Memorial Drive buzzing as he took down Sweden’s Mikael Ymer on Friday, Kokkinakis prevailing 7-6 (11-9) 4-6 6-4 as the clock passed midnight.

The win was built on ferocious forehands and big serves and followed impressive victories over compatriot John Millman and fourth seed Frances Tiafoe.

The wildcard entrant – Kokkinakis is currently ranked No.171 in the world – is set to earn another to play at the Australian Open, where he first won as a 17-year-old in 2014 and last year pushed world No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets in the second round.

But injuries – shoulder, pectoral, groin, knee, elbow and most recently the debilitating glandular fever – have conspired to stunt his career.

Only now at 25 is the South Australian enjoying a rare injury-free run, chasing his first ATP title and poised to do more damage in Melbourne later this month.

“I’ve no idea what time it is … everyone going bunta (crazy) got me through that first set when I felt like I was going through a brick wall (in Ymer),” he said on court post-match.

“I don’t need much motivation at the moment, but everyone’s definitely helping.

“It’s going to be a fun match (against Monfils); he brings his own energy, you don’t know what you’re getting at the other end.

“But when he’s on .. he was one of my favourite players growing up.”

The cool-headed Ymer provided a stern test, shrugging aside a dramatic tiebreak loss to force a deciding third set.

Kokkinakis broke immediately, though, and the local hope drew on his frenzied supporters as the clock struck midnight and a win loomed.

The Swede wasn’t done though, finding another gear to break back.

Kokkinakis paired huge forehand and backhand winners to hold for 5-4 and then benefited from an Ymer double fault at 30-30 to break and close it out.

Former world No.6 Monfils, currently ranked 21, breezed into the final four, beating Tommy Paul 6-4 6-1 earlier on Friday. 

Marin Cilic and Karen Khachanov will meet in the other semi-final.