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May 30, 2017

Thanasi Kokkinakis

Paris, France

K. NISHIKORI/T. Kokkinakis

4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did you feel to be back out there after all this time?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Good. Good getting that buzz back of the big tournament obviously against a quality player.

Yeah, it's been a frustrating time, but it's good to be back on the court. I felt pretty good out there, all things considered. And, yeah, I felt like I had a good shot.

Q. Are you disappointed in a way given, I suppose, you were up in the third set and you were real tight in the fourth? What is the emotion after the match?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, definitely frustration, but I've got to look at it from the other way. I played a tough, tough first set, and it was good to get that one out of the way. And then things didn't go right early in the second, so I kind of, in a way, let him have it a little bit.

And then, yeah, I tried to refocus for the fourth, and then, yeah, got up 3-Love, 3-1. I had missed a couple forehands, which I usually make, but I live and die by that shot a little bit. So, again, I feel like I could have made that, and then that's 4-1.

But tennis is all about momentum swings. He played a couple of good games. Again, the same sort of thing happened when I was maybe 3-All. Again, I felt like I had the ball on my racquet. I felt like from the baseline I felt pretty confident. I was there. Just a couple balls didn't drop for me. And then again, fourth set, held my service game. Came up with a big serve when I needed it. And then having Love-40, I had backed myself to break here.

The crowd was really good. I thought they would be more for him, but near the end I felt they were really trying to cheer me on and get behind me, which was unreal. Just couldn't get that Love-40 point. Then, again, 5-4 down, got broken. Had that Love-15 and I thought I was on top there. And I thought I should have been Love-30, and I didn't get it.

Q. How satisfying was it to go more than three hours with him?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: It would have been more satisfying if I had won, but my body is nowhere near where I need it to be. All things considered, it's probably the least or the worst preparation I've had going into a Grand Slam because I know how many balls you have to hit and I know how many hours you have to put on the practice court to be competitive. I was surprised my body was able to hang in there, but it's going to be interesting tomorrow when I wake up.

Q. I was going to ask you, how did the body pull up? Okay now, but the pain is tomorrow?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, pretty sore. I'm not going to lie. I'm not feeling great. I started to feel it 5-4 in the first set. That's why I was trying to shorten the points a little bit. But then kind of as the match went on, from a fatigue point, pretty good. Like, I felt like I was able to extend the rallies and not feel too bad after that first set. Start of the third, then I felt pretty good physically.

But, yeah, I'm a little sore in a couple area areas so I've got to check those out tomorrow and see what happens.

Q. I heard you said that you had remodeled your backhand slightly. How did that feel today?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: It was good. There's no bigger test than going backhand to backhand with Nishikori. I thought a couple of times I was relying on my forehands a little bit too much, but it's kind of me getting used to playing a little bit of a different way. Obviously, my base game to where it got me here is to be aggressive with the forehand and serve, but I thought my backhand more than held its own. I came up with some big ones when I needed to. I just thought I needed to be a little more controlled with it, maybe use it a little bit more.

Q. I saw you comment on Twitter supporting Casey and the comments that Margaret Court made. Just wondering what you make of that controversy brewing back home and what your thoughts are.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Well, I don't agree with what Margaret said. Obviously, I'm pretty good friends with Casey. So, yeah, I back Casey, and I don't agree with what Margaret said at all. But everyone is entitled to their opinion. I don't think you should not fly an airline because they back that sort of thing. But for me, I wouldn't go down that path, but I don't know. She's entitled to her opinion, but I don't agree. I know a lot of people that I'm friends with are gay as well from both sides. So, yeah, it's whatever.

Q. The arena?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: The arena, I don't know. It's not my decision. Again, I don't agree with what she said. Obviously, she's a legend of the sport for Australia. But I don't agree with what she said. I don't have much of an opinion on the arena, but I know it's a great court.

Q. Back to today's match. So what made you frustrated the most, a good shot from him or maybe double faults or some unforced errors?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: A bit of everything. My body a little bit. Just considering the amount of lack of preparation I've had, that's probably the most frustrating thing, knowing that if I felt like I was maybe five to ten percent in better shape, I feel like that match would have switched.

And I felt like I showed glimpses but, obviously, he came up with some big shots when he needed to. When I was on top of the game, he came up with a couple backhands that -- again, that deep one, I wasn't sure if it was in there. Obviously it was in because we kept playing. And a couple forehands from my part that didn't quite land on big points. So a little bit of both, yeah.

Q. When you sit back and take stock of today's match, what do you actually see? Is it a case of you've got a lot of areas you want to improve on or change or is it a matter of just really coming down to matches and match fitness?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah. There are things I can tidy up for sure, but the biggest is trying to get my body to be able to consistently feel decent for weeks on weeks. I mean, it's not feeling great. It's not supposed to feel great. I haven't played four sets in two years since Gasquet, I guess. So that was 2015.

And I haven't been able to do as much practice as I wanted to because like I feel good for a couple weeks and then there's something holding me back. So the bit I'm looking forward to the most is just getting to that practice court day after day and feel good and obviously be smart with rest, but that's the biggest thing with me. That's what I want to take out of it, just keep building.

Q. You practiced recently, you had a few sessions with Roger Federer?

Q. How did that work out and where do you think he's at just, I suppose, ahead of the grass court season?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: I mean, he's looking good. He always does. It's always tough to gauge with practice with him because practice and playing are so, so different. He's, obviously, trying a lot of shots in practice pretty relaxed. So I think he looks fine for the grass court. We're training on hard court.

But I was back home in Adelaide on the clay and I was like, well, I just need to get used to that level. So his coach messaged me a couple of times to try to get over there. And if it's a possibility for the grass, I don't think there's anyone better than to train with than Roger on the grass.

Q. After you got the first match, first set, did Kei change something in the way with his play?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS: Yeah, I think he lifted his level a little bit and mine dropped a lot. Physically, I think I dropped. I don't know how long I can sustain playing with the top guys at the moment and that's the frustrating thing from my end. I just feel like I need to get stronger and fitter and that's just going to take time.

I can't rush into these things. I think I said in an interview that if I lose matches because of fitness I'm okay with it. I'm not okay with it. I'm frustrated to be honest.

But he definitely lifted his level and on the big points he played the better points than I did.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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