Thanasi Kokkinakis has enjoyed another fine win in his 2022 renaissance, battling from a set down to defeat Argentine clay-court specialist Federico Delbonis in the Geneva Open.
After beating Fabio Fognini on Tuesday, the Australian followed up 24 hours later with a display of real resolve as he subdued the left-hander 1-6 7-5 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals.
The rejuvenated, injury-free 26-year-old Kokkinakis has risen to world No.85 again on the back of an impressive season which was capped by a maiden tour triumph in his home town tournament in Adelaide.
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That was on a hard court, but he’s been reminding everyone again this week in Switzerland why he also enjoys how his game shapes up on clay.
Indeed, his best performance at any grand slam was at the French Open seven years ago when he got to the third round as a teenage tyro.
At 5-0 down and getting blown away in the opening set, though, any revival on Wednesday seemed unlikely in Geneva as Delbonis dictated, took the set in 34 minutes and then served for a straight sets victory at 5-4.
But Kokkinakis reeled off eight straight points, breaking the southpaw delivery twice to level the match, and then again produced a strong finish to earn the only break of the third set in the 12th game.
It set up a last-eight encounter with high-flying second seed Casper Ruud, who will be an entirely different proposition on Thursday by the look of the way he dismantled Benoit Paire 6-3 6-1.
Kokkinakis’ compatriot Chris O’Connell found the monster serving of American giant Reilly Opelka too much in his last-16 encounter in Geneva, managing to earn just one break point opportunity – which he failed to convert – in the entire 90-minute match, as he went down 6-3 7-5.
O’Connell will now go up country to Paris where he’s received a wildcard to compete at the French Open.
In Lyon on Thursday, Alex de Minaur will also continue honing his preparations for Roland Garros and could hardly have a better chance of making his second semi-final of the clay-court swing, following his unexpected progression to the last-four in Barcelona.
De Minaur tackles Japanese lucky loser Yosuke Watanuki, who’s ranked 263 in the world – 242 places below the Australian No.1.