Thanasi Kokkinakis has paid tribute to the raucous Adelaide crowd for helping him pull through a grueling semi-final clash against Marin Cilic, as he booked a spot in his first ATP Tour final since 2017.
Kokkinakis coughed up a 6-2 lead in a thrilling final-set tiebreaker against the 2018 Australian Open finalist before prevailing a 6-2 3-6 7-6 (12-10) winner.
The sensational effort against the world No. 29 means Kokkinakis is in his first final since he was defeated by Sam Querrey in Los Cabos back in August, 2017.
Following his pulsating win, Kokkinakis once again paid tribute to the crowd support from his hometown fans.
“I played a great first set and I knew I couldn’t play too much better and that he was just going to maintain his level,” he told Nine’s Sam Groth after the match.
“He got on top of me and I just willed myself to the breaker. I played a great breaker up until 6-2 and then I tightened up like nothing else.
“He got a match point and I was like I can either go into my shell or I can die wondering and I just tried to tee off on a backhand, pulled it off, hit some big serves. I was just playing on adrenalin [the crowd] got me through, honestly.”
Having finished past midnight, Kokkinakis said his primary goal was to sleep before his clash against France’s Arthur Rinderkneck in Saturday’s Adelaide International final.
Marin Cilic vs Thanasi Kokkinakis: ATP Adelaide International
“I’m going to try and sleep, I’ve barely got any the past week,” he said. “A couple of monsters, maybe a red bull and caffeine and I’ll get going.”
“I’m just going to enjoy this tonight as much as I can and try to get my body ready for tomorrow, it’s going to be a tough final.
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“It’s been almost five years, back home, I couldn’t have asked for it anywhere else, honestly. A home final in Adelaide, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
After his clash against Rinderknech, Kokkinakis will face German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the opening round of the Australian Open next week.