Kokkinakis & #NextGenATP Lead Way Into Final Round Of Australian Open Qualies
Home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis has competed in nine Grand Slam main draws. And on Friday, he'll have a chance to make it 10 when he competes in the final round of qualifying at the Australian Open. The 22-year-old, seeded 32nd, defeated Austrian Sebastian Ofner 6-4, 7-6(4) on Thursday to earn a clash against No. 10 seed Peter Polansky, who beat Slovak Blaz Rola, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3.
Kokkinakis has proven his ability to compete with the best players in the world, defeating Roger Federer last year in Miami, and also beating big-serving Milos Raonic on the grass of The Queen's Club in 2017, just before the Canadian made the Wimbledon final. While the Aussie has dealt with plenty of injuries in recent years, Kokkinakis will look to move forward, starting with his match against Polansky, which can earn him his fourth main draw berth in Melbourne.
Polansky also is an interesting story, as the Canadian became the first player to claim 'lucky loser' entry into all four Grand Slams in the same season in 2018. The pair's only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting came two years ago in Los Cabos, with Kokkinakis winning in a third-set tie-break. They've split their two non-tour-level meetings, with Kokkinakis winning in Brisbane qualifying in the first week of the season.
Three #NextGenATP players will have a chance to advance to the main draw as well. Japanese Yosuke Watanuki, who qualified for Tokyo last year and beat Robin Haase in the main draw at the ATP 500 event, defeated Metz finalist Matthias Bachinger 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-3. The 20-year-old will face No. 6 seed Prajnesh Gunneswaran, who ousted Enrique Lopez Perez 6-3, 6-3.
No. 16 seed Miomir Kecmanovic, a former junior World No. 1, beat Maxime Janvier 6-4, 7-5(5). The 19-year-old Serbian will clash against No. 17 seed Thiago Monteiro, who defeated Gregoire Barrere 6-3, 6-3. Eighteen-year-old Rudolf Molleker, who last year became the youngest player from Germany to win an ATP Challenger Tour title since a 17-year-old Alexander Zverev in Braunschweig in 2014, beat 2018 Newport finalist Ramkumar Ramanathan 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(10-6) to earn his spot in the final round of qualifying. Molleker will face compatriot Oscar Otte, who got past No. 9 seed Juan Ignacio Londero 6-2, 6-2.
Other intriguing final-round qualifying matches in Melbourne include No. 4 seed Paolo Lorenzi-Daniel Evans, 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals alternate Lloyd Harris-Dustin Brown and Viktor Troicki-Darian King.