Home » ‘Feels a bit worse’: Kokkinakis out of Wimbledon as injury strikes again

‘Feels a bit worse’: Kokkinakis out of Wimbledon as injury strikes again

‘Feels a bit worse’: Kokkinakis out of Wimbledon as injury strikes again

Kokkinakis was first subjected to the vagaries of grasscourt tennis two years ago at a Challenger tournament in Surbiton, when he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

“The grass can be so dangerous,” Kokkinakis said pre-tournament, confirming that he remained tentative on the surface.

Thanasi Kokkinakis receives medical treatment.Credit: Getty Images

“I got injured two years ago, and I missed a month playing, so I’ve just got to be careful. At Wimbledon, more than anything, it’s just trying to get to the start line healthy.”

It is the 28-year-old’s latest cruel setback in a career full of them, after he rallied from two sets down to beat top-20 star Felix Auger-Aliassime on Wednesday in a match carried over from a day earlier.

Multiple rain delays interrupted that contest with Auger-Aliassime, and Kokkinakis was wary about restarting after the second of them early in the final set.

“I’ve got to see tomorrow with some scans about the severity of it, but I know I have done a similar injury to what I have in Queen’s, but it feels a bit worse, my gut feeling, but I’ll find out more.”

Thanasi Kokkinakis

There was carnage in that section of the draw on Thursday, with seventh-seeded Pole Hubert Hurkacz – de Minaur’s projected fourth-round opponent – also retiring from his match with a right knee injury.

Emerging Frenchman Arthur Fils instead progressed and will meet Russia’s Roman Safiullin for the right to take on de Minaur or Pouille.

The prospect of an all-Australian showdown is off the table until a potential quarter-final between de Minaur and Popyrin, who gets a second attempt at a grand slam this year to take down seven-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic.

Popyrin pushed Djokovic to four sets in the second round at this year’s Australian Open and earned another shot at him with a mature 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 triumph over 30th-seeded Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

“I had my chances in Australia. I felt comfortable out there on Rod Laver, with the Aussie crowd behind me, but I think he’s going to be a whole other beast here at Wimbledon,” Popyrin said.

“I think he’s probably the best grasscourter in the world, and just super comfortable on it, and even though he had [knee] surgery only a few weeks ago, he’s still playing fairly well and moving really well. I’m going to expect a fully fit Novak Djokovic, and I’m going to have to bring my A-game out there.

“I think it’s really important that I keep serving well. He is the best returner in the world, so it’s going to be tough, but I know I can do it … I don’t want to say I’m super-confident or not, I’m just going to go out there and enjoy the moment.

“I feel like I do have the game, but I’ve said that before against big players, and I’ve come up short, so I’m going to keep quiet now.”

De Minaur brushed off some uncharacteristic stumbles in the third set with the finish line in sight – dropping serve three times, including to love when first trying to serve the match out – to down Spaniard Jaume Munar 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.

This is his third trip to the last 32 at the All England club in his blossoming career as he bids to avenge history after going within one point of reaching the quarter-finals in London two years ago.

It is only going to get more challenging for de Minaur, who ranks among the second tier of title contenders behind the big three of world No.1 Jannik Sinner, defending champion Carlos Alcaraz and Djokovic.

Pouille reached the last eight at Wimbledon eight years ago and was ranked as high as No.10 in 2018.

De Minaur joked that the driving force behind his grasscourt campaign was avoiding being tagged a “claycourt specialist” following his Roland-Garros quarter-final effort, but he radiated confidence after sweeping aside Munar in a performance he described as “great”.

Not even his girlfriend Katie Boulter’s shock defeat to fellow Brit Harriet Dart dampened his spirits.

Thumbs up: Alex de Minaur wins his second round match against Spain’s Jaume Munar.

Thumbs up: Alex de Minaur wins his second round match against Spain’s Jaume Munar.Credit: AP

“It’s what happens in tennis, right? You have your good days, you have your bad days, and everything in between,” de Minaur said of Boulter.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to be tough. Losing sucks. That’s the reality of it. It doesn’t matter whether you lose in the first round, in the final, or anything in between – it’s never easy. But I think the most important thing for her is that this match doesn’t define her in any way, shape, or form.

“I’m so proud of what she’s done, and what she’s accomplished this whole grasscourt season.”

Walton lost a fifth-set super tiebreaker to Andrey Rublev’s Argentinian conqueror, Francisco Comesana, while Daria Saville served for the match three times and had a match point before going down 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 to 18th-seeded Marta Kostyuk.

The 7-5, 1-6, 6-7 (10-12), 6-1, 7-6 (10-8) defeat ends a breakthrough Wimbledon for Walton, who won at a grand slam for the first time to guarantee his return to the top 100 post-tournament.

His result also puts him in a strong position to be a direct acceptance at the US Open in late August.

“When I came off court I was absolutely shattered. I came so close,” Walton said.

“I was down in the fifth and got that break back, then I was 0-40 at four-all and ended up holding, but he was always up in the tiebreak and I could never get in front. Obviously, [still] a lot of positives to take from this week, getting my first grand slam win and … to know my body is capable of going the distance is positive signs.”

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Saville is probably the only Australian player who can relate to Kokkinakis’ string of ailments, having fought back from two ACL ruptures while managing an ongoing Achilles issue.

This was her chance to reach the third round at a major for the first time since Roland-Garros two years ago, and at Wimbledon for six years, so her 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 defeat to 18th-seeded Marta Kostyuk will be particularly painful.

Saville tugged a forehand wide on her match point in the 12th game of the second set before Kostyuk went to force a tiebreak on her eighth break-back point in that game. The Ukrainian took control of the match.

Marc McGowan is at Wimbledon with the support of Tennis Australia.

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