14,980 kilometres from home, young South Australian tennis star, Thanasi Kokkinakis displayed true Australian spirit on the biggest stage.
The 133rd ranked Australian recorded an impressive comeback by defeating 31st ranked Lukas Rosol in five sets in the opening singles rubber of Australia’s Davis cup tie against the Czech Republic.
In a game that had everything, it started out as a nightmare for Kokkinakis, as Rosol raced to two sets to love lead in a little over an hour.
Rosol had his young opponent scrambling well behind the baseline and after grasping another break in the third set, it seemed that he was cruising to an easy straight sets victory.
Despite Rosol serving for the match at 5-4 in the third, Kokkinakis’ attitude did not waiver as he found a way to break back and go on to win the following two games to take the set 7-5.
All of a sudden, momentum had shifted completely in the Australian’s favour as he took control of the fourth set.
With patience, Kokkinakis found an opportunity at 6-5 to break Rosol and take the game to a fifth and deciding set.
Kokkinakis’ started the fifth set strongly and looked to have the game under control until he dropped his serve at 2-all.
As quickly as it looked like all was lost, the comeback dream was back alive, as the Australian broke straight back in the following game.
Kokkinakis’ would go on to win the next three games to take the deciding set 6-3, producing a memorable comeback and giving Australia the perfect start to the opening Davis cup tie.
“I was getting killed for the first three sets but that’s the beauty of best-of-five sets if you hang in there and I’m thrilled I managed to turn it around,” Kokkinakis told Channel Seven.
The two sets to love deficit was not the only challenge for the young Kokkinakis, with the home Czech Republic crowd producing a hostile environment for the Australian.
“I had the drums going straight in my ear and they were going on for ages,” Kokkinakis said.
“I kind of wanted to turn and rub it in at the end but I thought I’d keep it to myself a little bit.”
Australian captain, Wally Masur, also felt the pressure of the match after producing the surprise selection of Kokkinakis earlier in the week.
“It was a bit of a risk and I was sitting there for a while thinking, ‘oh god, I’ve outsmarted myself’,” Masur said.
“But we did believe in Thanasi and believed he could get the win.”
With Bernard Tomic also winning his first rubber, the risk has certainly paid off with the Australian team now taking a commanding 2-0 lead into the Doubles rubber today.