Thanasi Kokkinakis served up a treat for the home fans at the Adelaide International 2 on Wednesday, when the Australian downed top seed Andrey Rublev 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals at the ATP 250 event.
Kokkinakis held off a mid-match resurgence from Rublev to notch the third Top 10 victory of his career in one hour, 57 minutes. The Australian, who lifted an ATP 250 trophy in Adelaide in 2022, now has an 11-2 tour-level record in his hometown across 2022 and 2023 — no other player has won more matches there in that timeframe.
“I’ve had my best memories on this court,” said Kokkinakis in his on-court interview. “Last year was an incredible feeling. It’s something that you dream of as a kid, and to play in front of you guys in this atmosphere, it’s incredible.”
Kokkinakis took advantage of an error-strewn first-set display from Rublev to move ahead in the pair’s first tour-level meeting. Despite the top seed battling back to claim the second set, Kokkinakis remained largely dominant behind his serve as he fired 17 aces and won 86 per cent (38/44) of points behind his first delivery to blunt Rublev’s powerful return game.
“It’s a big part of my game,” said Kokkinakis. “If I’m serving well, I feel like I have a chance to beat a lot of guys. Especially when the new balls came, I tried to take a little bit of pace off my serve and really try and land it, hit the spot. Fortunately, there were a few unreturnables.”
Kokkinakis claimed the only break of the deciding set in the fourth game to set up his victory. His next opponent will be Miomir Kecmanovic, who earlier dashed hopes of an all-Australian quarter-final in Adelaide by completing a 5-7, 7-6(1), 6-4 comeback win against Jason Kubler.
Soonwoo Kwon also notched a major upset on Wednesday by taking out second seed and World No. 15 Pablo Carreno Busta for the second Top 20 win of his career.
The 25-year-old Kwon, who fell to Tomas Machac in the final round of qualifying in Adelaide before beating the Czech as a lucky loser in the first round, converted three of seven break points to register his first victory against Carreno Busta in three tour-level meetings. The South Korean will face Mikael Ymer in his maiden quarter-final appearance in Adelaide, after the Swede prevailed 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 against Mackenzie McDonald.