2022 has been a year of resurgence for Thanasi Kokkinakis. And the surge continues for the 25-year-old Aussie, who added his first trip to the BNP Paribas Open main draw since 2015 to his growing list of achievements on Wednesday, with a 7-6(5), 7-5 triumph over Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.
Kokkinakis rode into the Coachella Valley on the heels of a scorching January that saw him crack several milestones. He racked up his maiden ATP singles title in Adelaide, then claimed his maiden Grand Slam doubles title at the Australian Open with his good mate Nick Kyrgios riding shotgun.
For his efforts Kokkinakis, hyper-talented but oft-injured, climbed into the top-100 for the first time in six years on February 7. The former world No.69 (currently 97) has not dropped a set through two qualifying rounds – a 6-3, 6-4 win over Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, followed by today’s triumph over Pospisil.
High on confidence and carrying an impressive 11-4 record for the season (including qualifiers and Davis Cup), Kokkinakis is hoping that he may have turned a corner in his career.
Earlier this week he spoke to ATPWorldTour.com and said it was mental strength that has guided him past a myriad debilitating injuries over the years.
“If you’re strong with your mind and you keep pushing, you never know,” Kokkinakis told the tour’s official website. “The fortunate thing with tennis is you’re only a week away from turning your career around, so that’s the biggest thing.”
17-Year-Old Juncheng Shang Qualifies for First Masters 1000 Main Draw
The youngest player in this year’s men’s singles draw will be China’s Juncheng Shang. The world No.543, who turned 17 on February 2, is a former junior No.1 who lost in the final of the US Open Boys’ Singles in 2021.
Shang advanced on Wednesday when Germany’s Mats Moraing retired due to injury, down 6-3. The Chinese teenager, who trains at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, turned heads in his first qualifying match on Monday when he upset Argentina’s Francisco’s Cerundolo, 7-6(4), 6-4.
Shang is the first Chinese man to ever make the main draw at Indian Wells, and the youngest to do so since 16-year-old Donald Young in 2006.
Wolf Set for BNP Paribas Open Main Draw Debut
American JJ Wolf will participate in the main draw for the second consecutive year after taking out Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galan, 7-6(3), 6-3. He’ll be joined by American Christopher Eubanks in the main draw. Eubanks took out Portugal’s Joao Sousa, 7-6(4), 7-6(4). Eubanks, ranked 157, reached the second round at Indian Wells last year.
Mikhail Kukushkin, Jaume Munar, Philipp Kohlshchreiber, Taro Daniel and Tomas Machac also slipped into the main draw with qualifying wins on Wednesday.
Main draw play for the men’s singles draw will begin on Thursday.