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Advantage Kokkinakis

first_imgThanasi Kokkinakis will be in the best shape of his career at his second Australian Open appearance, and has been tipped for Melbourne Park success by world number one Novak Djokovic.With a full year on tour under his belt, the 18-year-old from Adelaide told Neos Kosmos this week that he was raring to go and keen to build on his success at last year’s Open when he won his first ever grand slam match against Igor Sijsling.“I was fortunate enough to get a wild card last year and I feel I’ve improved a lot, so hopefully I can go a bit further this year.”World number one Djokovic told Fox Sports this week that he expected Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios to do well in front of a home crowd. “They’re very talented players,” he said, “and I’m sure with the crowd behind them they’ll be very tough opponents.”Kokkinakis, who is currently ranked 149th in the ATP world rankings, said that his goal was to play well enough at the Australian Open to crack the top 100.“That’s not easy, but I feel that I’ve got the game to compete with the top one hundred players … I feel I can do it.“There’s a bit more pressure than last year but I’ve got to trust the work I did in the off-season, so I should be right.”Asked how he handles the media attention that comes with being picked for a senior grand slam event (he reached two junior grand slam finals in 2013), Kokkinakis said it was a matter of embracing the experience.“You just have to make sure you’re dedicated on and off the court, put in all the focus every session, and be as well prepared as you can.“You have to chill out, not get too distracted by social media, and have a good time.”Last year Kokkinakis suffered from cramps during his first round victory, before being defeated three sets to love by Raphael Nadal in the second round.This time around Thanasi feels he has more to give and the stamina to compete with the best.“Physically I’ve improved, in all areas I think I’ve improved. Hopefully I’m a bit fitter and stronger.”Thanasi Kokkinakis has been drawn against 11th seed Ernests Gulbis in the opening round. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more

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