Australian Open: Thanasi Kokkinakis scraps tanking claims after Fabio Fognini

Thanasi Kokkinakis has distanced himself from claims of tanking after opponent Fabio Fognini made their game come to an absurd end in the first round.

Thanasi Kokkinakis said he didn’t give a damn if his opponent would really throw in the towel after winning a ridiculous Australian Open match against Italy’s Fabio Fognini on Wednesday.

Kokkinakis needed just five points to claim victory after play was suspended for nearly 24 hours due to lousy Melbourne weather, completing what he had started the day before with a 6-1, 6: 2, 6-2 win.

But it was the lackluster performance of Fognini – who was once ranked seventh in the world – that caused some observers to wonder just how hard he was competing.

The Italian gained just one more point before the one-sided fight ended, leaving Kokkinakis in the dark about how hard his opponent had tried.

“I’ve played him three times now and I’m 3-0. Unless he filled up every time,” he said.

“I play well. I have served well. I felt like I really didn’t give him a chance.

“I don’t know what he feels or how he does it, but he was top 10. Who knows?

“A lot of guys like that come in and out. If you look at some of the breakpoints there are balls that people would tank at that wouldn’t run out and try to push them back.

“To be honest, I don’t really care if people think he’s tanked or not. I’m in the second round. That’s all that counts.”

Kokkinakis now plays Britain’s former world No. 1 Andy Murray in the second round.

The two are old friends.

When the Aussie first got on the pro tour he thought Murray was a bastard but they quickly struck up a friendship when the Scot started contacting him to offer him support.

“Andy is someone I respect a lot. Obviously he was at the top of the game and can relate a little to the injury side of things. I’ve missed a few years and so has he, especially lately,” Kokkinakis said.

“When I got on tour, he was someone who was always willing to offer advice when he thought about it. I practiced with him quite a bit, I played doubles with him at Indian Wells, so we have a pretty good relationship.

“We get along really well. I really like him off the pitch. I remember watching him when I was younger and thinking this guy looks moody as hell, he looks miserable. Then when you get to know him, he’s actually a Ripper guy and a good guy.”

Murray has already braved the odds to reach the second round after a thrilling five-set win over Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, but questions remain over his fitness.

The 35-year-old has a metal hip from career-saving surgery he underwent a few years ago that sets off alarms when he goes through airport security, but Kokkinankis said it has only made his rival stronger.

“Whether he had a metal hip or not, I don’t think you had to question his character. What he has done in the sport, his resilience, how he plays and how he performs after games, as well as his commitment and dedication to the sport speak for him,” said Kokkinakis.

“I wish I had metal body parts. They might have held up a little better. Who knows. Everyone has their own thing to deal with. I definitely wouldn’t say my physique is always A1. I think if there’s anyone who can identify with injuries, it’s Andy. I don’t think he’s the only one struggling with some things.”

Kokkinakis also said he has no bad feelings for missing a chance to defend the doubles title she won with Nick Kyrgios last year after his good pal retired with injury.

“Obviously it’s disappointing, but Nick has to do what’s best for him,” said Kokkinakis.

“We had a magical run last year and we will never forget that so we hope to repeat it next year but for him he is a good mate first and foremost so health comes first and hopefully he comes back to running. ”


Daniil Medvedev had never played Aussie John Millman, but he knew all about his reputation as a giant killer.

After his first-round win, the Russian mentioned Millman’s victory over the great Roger Federer at the US Open in 2018.

As a result, he was on high alert at Margaret Court Arena for any ambush by the local hero.

After some anxious moments during an epic first set, the No.7 seed showed its class to outlast the local journeyman 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in just over two and a half hours.

“I think it was a great game,” said Medvedev. “The result in the second and third sets does not reflect what happened on the pitch.

“In the first set he managed to break me three times and that doesn’t happen that often. I wasn’t happy with myself, but he played fantastic.”

Medvedev revealed there was a moment during the 63-minute opening stanza where he worried if he would have the legs to walk with the Australian.

“Physically, it was tough for both of us,” he said. “There was a time in the first set where I was like, ‘How am I going to deal with this?’

“It wasn’t easy, but sometimes I walked too much, so I decided to slow down after that and said, ‘Okay, John, if you want to beat me, we’ll play 40-shot rallies’.”

While Millman is well respected for his fitness and determination, he had no answers for the ruthless Russian.

And as the match ventured into the second and third sets, it was Millman who made his presence felt, which played into the hands of last year’s runner-up.

But as is so often the case with Millman games, he refused to lie down.

Even when he was 5-1 down on his serve with multiple match points against him, the 33-year-old found something and got fans going while keeping the match alive, if only for a few minutes.

Medvedev, 26, aims to become just the fourth man in the Open era to reach three consecutive Australian Open finals, along with Novak Djokovic, who has made it twice, Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl.

Originally published as Australian Open 2023: All Aussie Contingent News and Results Australian Open: Thanasi Kokkinakis scraps tanking claims after Fabio Fognini

Ryan Sederquist

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