Home » Demon’s chance for redemption in fourth round; Kokkinakis’ camp says he’s avoided serious damage

Demon’s chance for redemption in fourth round; Kokkinakis’ camp says he’s avoided serious damage

Demon’s chance for redemption in fourth round; Kokkinakis’ camp says he’s avoided serious damage

Alex de Minaur will get a chance for Wimbledon redemption after advancing to the last 16 without striking a ball when his third-round opponent Lucas Pouille handed him an injury-enforced walkover.

The Australian star – who will climb three places to a career-high No.6 in the live rankings if he makes the final eight – returns to the fourth round for the second time, two years after giving up a two-set lead and being match point up against Cristian Garin with a quarter-final spot within sight.

That development comes as Thanasi Kokkinakis’ strength-and-conditioning coach Jona Segal confirmed to this masthead that Kokkinakis appears to have dodged a significant setback.

The big South Australian sustained a knee injury when he slipped on the grass during his second-round match against Pouille, with his right foot sliding out before his left leg crumbled underneath him.

“Thanasi looks to have a moderate grade MCL [medial collateral ligament] sprain that should see him back in time for most, if not all, of the US hardcourt swing,” Segal said.

Alex de Minaur is through to the fourth round as his opponent withdraws.

Alex de Minaur is through to the fourth round as his opponent withdraws.Credit: AP

The United States hardcourt season begins in Atlanta late this month – where Kokkinakis had planned to play until this setback– and runs until the US Open, which starts on August 26. Kokkinakis, who underwent an MRI scan after the Pouille match.

Kokkinakis first sprained the MCL in the same knee in a fall on Surbiton’s grass two years ago, but also had a pre-Wimbledon scare when he hurt himself in similar fashion at Queen’s Club.

Pouille sought treatment for an abdominal issue at the end of the first set in the previous round against Kokkinakis, but was leading 2-6, 7-5, 5-2 when the Australian pulled out. That was the official reason for his withdrawal.

The 212th-ranked Frenchman qualified for this year’s tournament but reached the quarter-finals in 2016 and was ranked as high as No.10 six years ago. He is on the comeback trail from elbow surgery.

He will face France’s Arthur Fils, who beat him on Barcelona’s clay in April. Fils ousted Russian Roman Safiullin, a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon last year, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.

De Minaur was delighted with his second-round win over Spaniard Jaume Munar and is yet to drop a set, after making the Roland-Garros quarter-finals for the first time last month amid a career-best season

“I’m very happy. It was a very good performance today all the way until the end, which it got a little bit tough to kind of finish it off,” the 25-year-old said after beating Munar.

“But I’m very happy with the level. I played great. I’m feeling really good.”

De Minaur will now have four days between matches when he faces Safiullin or Fils on Monday, but dodges a frustrating day with London’s fickle weather.

The ninth-seeded Sydneysider won his second grasscourt title at s’Hertogenbosch in Holland after his impressive result in Paris before a shock first-round defeat at Queen’s Club to eventual runner-up Lorenzo Musetti.

De Minaur was initially concerned about having two weeks without a match leading into Wimbledon, but had changed his tune by the time he arrived at the All England club.

“To be honest, I feel great. I feel like a bit of time [off] was exactly what I needed to settle in,” he told this masthead pre-tournament.

“I feel like I played a lot of tennis recently, so it was good to just have a little bit of downtime and just relax, and enjoy the UK summer time – it’s a beautiful time of the year.”

De Minaur said that Garin result remains a bitter memory in his career, but he believes he is a vastly improved player from then.

“That was still, to this moment, a tough, tough moment. Playing Garin, being two-sets-to-love up, having match points to make the quarter-finals,” he said.

“But I think I’m a different player now. I think I’ve got the weapons that maybe a couple of years ago, I needed a little bit of luck with draws and match-ups to kind of squeeze my way in there. I feel like maybe this year I can kind of create it on my own terms.”