Home » Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis wins Sarasota Open, punches ticket to French Open

Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis wins Sarasota Open, punches ticket to French Open

SARASOTA – Thanasi Kokkinakis joined forces with fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios in 2022 for the most memorable moment of his tennis career. The duo captured the Australian Open doubles title, despite entering the tournament a wild car and ranked No. 434.

Now, the two Aussies have something else in common.

Kokkinakis delivered a convincing 6-3, 1-6, 6-0 victory over Belgium’s Zizou Burgs on a picturesque Sunday afternoon at Payne Park Tennis Center in downtown Sarasota to win the singles championship of the 2024 Elizabeth Moore Sarasota Open.

Kyrgios claimed the singles crown at the 2014 Sarasota Open.

More: Sarasota Open tennis tournament at Payne Park ends Sunday

“I guess Nick and I will have something new to chat about,” a relieved Kokkinakis said following the match.

The 6-foot-4, 28-year-old entered the ATP Challenger Tour event with the added pressure of knowing that if he won at Sarasota, he would be guaranteed a spot in the main draw of this year’s French Open by cracking the top 100 rankings. He entered the tournament with a world ranking of No. 101 and was seeded No. 3.

“This is my springboard to the French Open,” Kokkinakis said. “I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel any pressure out there.

“Coming into the week, it’s not the kind of thought process you want to have. I like to play free and play my game. But that made it tough. I just kept fighting. I knew what was at stake. I kept pushing hard and found a way to win.”

After Kokkinakis dominated the first set, Bergs dramatically turned it around for the second by a 6-1 margin.

“I lost my focus there for a while,” Kokkinakis said. “But I was able to gather myself. I was putting a lot of pressure on my shoulders. It was a relief after winning.”

Bergs entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed and a No. 109 world ranking. His runner-up finish at Sarasota won’t get him into the top 100. But he’s inching closer.

“This was a little heartbreaking,” said the 24-year-old Bergs. His parents gave him the first name of Zizou in honor of the French soccer star Zinedine Zidane, who wears the moniker as a nickname. “But I will crack that top 100 eventually.”

The next stop for Bergs will be the Tallahassee Open, another ATP Tour Challenger event, where he will attempt to defend his singles title.

“This week I am in the finals,” Bergs said. “Next week, I have a title to defend. That is the life of tennis.”

Kokkinakis put the match in the bag with his 6-0 shutout in the third set.

“I probably broke his spirit a little bit after he played a great second set,” Kokkinakis said. “Both of us have had long weeks. When you get to the final, both of you are a little bit fatigued.

“Zizou is a hell of a player. He will crack the top 100. It’s just a matter of time.

The path to the final for Kokkinakis included a grueling three-and-a-half-hour 7-6 (2), 4-6, 7-6 (3) quarterfinal victory on Friday over No. 7 seed Gabriel Diallo of Canada. He needed another two hours to dispose of Australian Marc Polmans 6-2, 7-6 (5) in his semifinal on Saturday.

Englishman Oliver Crawford and American Tristan Boyer teamed up on Saturday night to capture the Sarasota Open doubles title by beating Tennys Sandgren and Ethan Quinn of the U.S., 6-4, 6-2.