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Thanasi Kokkinakis outlasts Alexei Popyrin in rollercoaster Adelaide win

After lucking into  the Miami Open when other players cancelled, Thanasi Kokkinakis has his first scalp of the tournament. <i>Photo: AAP</i>

After lucking into the Miami Open when other players cancelled, Thanasi Kokkinakis has his first scalp of the tournament. Photo: AAP

Thanasi Kokkinakis has kept alive his hopes of defending his maiden singles title in Adelaide after outlasting fellow Australian Alexei Popyrin in a rollercoaster first-round match.

Kokkinakis, who came flying out of the blocks in front of his home crowd, battled back from a break down in the third set to win 6-0 6-7(5) 7-5 on Monday night.

The 26-year-old was listless after dropping the second-set tiebreak, in which he led 4-2 before missing a relatively easy drive volley.

He was broken early in the third, but was able to regroup and book a second-round match with top seed Andrey Rublev.

“There’s a curse almost when you win a set 6-0. It was almost going too smooth,” Kokkinakis said on court after the match.

“I was being a bit of a softie for the end part of that match, but I got it together … and toughed it out in the end.

“I started to get a bit flat and kind of feeling sorry for myself after the second set. But I had to grow a pair and get back to it.”

Kokkinakis had a dream run at the corresponding tournament last year when he beat big hitters John Isner and Marin Cilic on his way to the trophy.

The win comes after Kokkinakis bowed out of Adelaide 1 – the tournament played at the same venue last week – in the second round.

Popyrin, ranked 133, just three below Kokkinakis, was out of sorts early and a long way from the tennis that got him a win over world No.6 Felix Auger-Aliassime en route to the quarter-finals at Adelaide 1.

He won just eight points and made 10 unforced errors in a first set that lasted only 25 minutes.

But he came to life and had the running until Kokkinakis broke back to level at 3-all in the final set.

-AAP

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