Kokkinakis fears French Open hopes damaged by marathon

Ian Chadband |

Thanasi Kokkinakis says his late-night, five-set first-round win could affect his French Open hopes.
Thanasi Kokkinakis says his late-night, five-set first-round win could affect his French Open hopes.

Thanasi Kokkinakis fears his French Open hopes may have been compromised by his latest late-night grand slam marathon — but at least the dismal Paris weather could aid and abet his recovery.

The Adelaide warrior was left aching and weary after his near four-and-a-half hour triumph over pal Alexei Popyrin concluded at 11.37pm on Tuesday and meant that the self-confessed “horrendous” sleeper did not get to bed until over four hours later, leaving him to concede: “It definitely hurts me for later rounds.”

Just how badly it hurts him was originally set to be learned on Thursday when the 28-year-old, scheduled as third on court in the day session, will be given another tough physical examination by tough Italian clay-courter Giulio Zeppieri as he bids to reach the third round for the third time in his career.

“It’s probably going to throw me off for the next match, as far as I’ve had to dump being able to sleep at the right time because of a midnight finish and it takes another three, four hours to wind down,” said Kokkinakis.

Zeppieri
Giulio Zeppieri will be a tough opponent for Kokkinakis after four straight wins in Paris. (AP PHOTO)

“I’ll come in to Roland Garros and get some treatment, but I’m not sure if I’ll step foot on the court on the eve of the match, just trying to get my body in the best spot. It’s just tricky, but these are just things that you learn when you’ve been on tour a while, that you need to be adaptable.”

But when Wednesday’s programme on the outside courts was wiped out by the incessant, drizzly rain which has plagued the event and is set to continue into Thursday, it looked eminently possible that Kokkinakis might get a further day’s rest with the forecast again looking so unpromising.

But whenever he does step on court, Kokkinakis knows life won’t get any easier against the buoyant Zeppieri, who has gone through three rounds of qualifying before knocking out home favourite, 22nd seed Adrian Mannarino, in the opening round.

“He’s a good player,” Kokkinakis, the world No.100 of an opponent who’s 48 places lower in the ATP rankings.

“I’ve watched him play a little bit and kind of wondered why he hasn’t progressed ranking-wise but I think he’s very good, and he proved it beating someone from France in their own tournament.

“He had good match here last year with Casper Ruud (going down in four sets) and he ended up making the final, so I’m expecting a battle.”

But after some of his agonising defeats in the past, like the five-hour 45-minute loss to Andy Murray in the early hours in last year’s Australian Open, did Kokkinakis perhaps feel that the Popyrin win was the sort of omen that he could enjoy a breakthrough fortnight.

“Maybe, you never know — but there’s times when I’ve thought I’m looking good – a la Murray – and it didn’t go so well!

“So you can’t too ahead of yourself. I know no matches in grand slams are easy. The guy (Zeppieri) has won four matches in a row now. I’m not thinking this week might be the week.

“It’s pretty much a cliche, but I’m just going to try and be as good as I can mentally and try my nuts off and see how it goes.”

AUSTRALIANS IN ACTION ON DAY FIVE OF THE FRENCH OPEN: (Prefix denotes seeding):

11-Alex de Minaur v Jaume Munar (ESP)

Thanasi Kokkinakis v Giulio Zeppieri (ITA)

AAP