Kokkinakis Qualifies For Australian Open; Krueger To Face Djokovic
Thanasi Kokkinakis achieved a career first on Friday at the Australian Open: securing his place in a Grand Slam main draw as a qualifier. The 22-year-old Adelaide native defeated Canadian Peter Polansky 6-4, 6-4 to take his place in the 128-man field.
While this may be Kokkinakis’ first time qualifying for a major, it will be his 10th Grand Slam main draw appearance – and fourth at the Australian Open. He reached the second round in 2014-15 and bowed out in his opener last year (l. to Medvedev). He will play Japan’s Taro Daniel in the first round.
After fighting for his place in the main draw, American Mitchell Krueger earned a first-round clash with World No. 1 and six-time champion Novak Djokovic. The 24-year-old Krueger won all of his qualifying matches in three sets, including a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Marco Trungelliti in the final round.
Two other Americans, Christopher Eubanks and Bjorn Fratangelo, also qualified and will respectively play No. 18 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and No. 29 seed Gilles Simon. Eubanks defeated Pedro Martinez 6-3, 6-3, while Fratangelo rallied past Ze Zhang 6-7(4), 7-6(1), 6-1.
A total of 10 qualifiers, including Krueger and Eubanks, will make their Australian Open main draw debuts: #NextGenATP stars Rudolf Molleker and Miomir Kecmanovic, South African Lloyd Harris, Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak, Swiss Henri Laaksonen, Italian Stefano Travaglia, 29-year-old Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran and 30-year-old Gleb Sakharov of France.
Teens Molleker and Kecmanovic will both meet seeded players in their openers, with Molleker facing No. 18 Diego Schwartzman and Kecmanovic confronting No. 26 Fernando Verdasco. In other notable first-round matches, Harris will meet No. 15 seed Daniil Medvedev and Majchrzak will play eighth seed Kei Nishikori.
Tatsuma Ito, 30, prevailed against Lorenzo Sonego 7-6(6), 0-6, 7-6(10-3) and will face another qualifier, Daniel Evans, in the first round. The 28-year-old Evans, who defeated Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-3, achieved his best Grand Slam result at the 2017 Australian Open, when he reached the fourth round (l. to Tsonga).
Serbian Viktor Troicki will make his 11th main draw appearance in Melbourne after defeating Darian King 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Italy's Luca Vanni eased past Hiroki Moriya 6-2, 6-2 and will challenge 23rd-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in his opener.