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January 14, 2014

Thanasi Kokkinakis


6‑4, 6‑4, 6‑4

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Pretty excited with the win?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  Very excited.  Had a fair few of my close mates all around.  I was trying to pick them out.  When I kind of high fived my mates everyone else had their hand out, so I went around with it.  It was good fun.

Q.  Good to have both you and Nick through.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  It's good for Australian tennis.  Unfortunately Lleyton and Bernie obviously didn't get up.  But, I mean, Matty is still in.  James I felt put in a good effort against Federer.
So I think Australian tennis is on the up.  Yeah, I know, it's exciting stuff.

Q.  How did you get through that match?  You were cramping horribly the last set.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  Yeah, I don't actually know, because, I mean, I started to feel it really early, maybe 5‑6 in the third set.  I was like, Oh, this ain't going to end too well.  I just tried to make returns.
I think he got a little tighter thinking what's down the other end.  I was trying to hang in there and try to find the cheap points.  I was shortening the points as much as I could, because when it was going for a while I wasn't having much success.
I broke him early in the fourth, which he should have won that game.  Somehow I came up with it.  Kind of just tried to keep my serve.

Q.  You've had some kind of physical ailments, haven't you?  Growth spurts, I presume.  Can you take us through those, how they've affected your progress.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  Yeah, well I probably I missed over a year the last three years.  When I was 14, just turned 15, I think I got my first ATP point.  The week after I got injured, and then I was out for about seven months with a stress fracture there.
Then I had a good full year after that.  Then after Aussie Open this year, I actually found out I had a stress fracture the night before my‑‑ no, the night before my final match in the juniors.  I played with it during my quarterfinal and my semifinal, so that wasn't great news.
But I missed six months rehabbing.
The body is feeling great right now, even though I was cramping in the fourth.  But, yeah, I feel good.

Q.  What have you done in the last hour or so to recover?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  I've eaten, I've had a shower, got some treatment, and had some ice.  So pretty much everything I can do.  Now get some good rest, and hopefully I don't pull up too bad tomorrow.

Q.  Obviously have a remarkable match in prospect.  How do you view playing a player of that quality, almost certainly on Rod Laver?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  I think I've had a couple good experiences, qualifying in Brisbane playing Lleyton on that big center court there.  I think it was all a good experience for me, just build up to play these moments.
I'm really happy I've played two of the greatest players to play the game.  I'm playing in a couple days' time.  I'm looking forward to the challenge.  Yeah, I'll go out there to win.

Q.  He said you practiced with him last week, Nadal.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  I practiced with him at French Open a little bit.  That was one of my first hits coming off my injury.  The back didn't pull up too well after that.
I think two days will be a bit of a different story.  It was on clay.
Yeah, I practiced with him.  I had a funny interview with him with Babolat him the other day.  The last question was, What if you both win, will you be nervous?  Everyone kind of started laughing.
He said, Always nervous.  I'm just looking forward to going out there and having a crack.

Q.  How much did you learn about Grand Slam tennis and to push through the pain barrier to win these matches?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  Yeah, the crowd was unreal today.  It started off without many people because it was so hot.  Lleyton's match finished and a few came over.
I was on Show Court 3.  I'm trying to imagine what Rod Laver would be like.  Yeah, it was really hard, I found, to keep concentration in a best‑out‑of‑five‑set match.  If I can do that, I'll be pretty happy.

Q.  That last game you won, one of those most emphatic games you played for the whole match?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  I don't really know where that came from.  I was kind of relaxed.  I was a little bit nervous.  I was like, Win this game and you're through.
I think he was a little more nervous than I was.  I just kind of read his serves, kept the points short, and went free swinging.  Kind of pulled off really nicely.

Q.  Is there a healthy rivalry between you and Nick as well?  It can only be to the benefit of both of you if you're both pushing each other.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  Yeah, exactly.  It's great that we both push each other.  A lot of people talk about it as a rivalry.  We just try to get the wins when we play.  Try not to think too much what he's doing, what I'm doing, just play my game when it's there.

Q.  Did you see him in the stands watching you?

Q.  Yeah.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  No, I didn't.  I saw his brother.  He's pretty hard to miss.  No, I didn't see Nick.  It was good that he was out there.  I would have been out there, but it was so hot and I was trying to get prepared for my match.
No, I'm happy that he came out.  It's good support.

Q.  Did you feel nervous before you went out?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  I was actually all right.  Yeah, I don't know.  I mean, I just felt good.  I just felt good out there.  I started off the match serving pretty well.  Getting the first set was a big bonus, even though I got chopped in the second.
Getting the first set was big bonus knowing that I'm there.  I couldn't make a return.  If I just made some returns I'd feel good, and that's what happened.

Q.  Even though you're still growing up, who is your favorite player?  Was Nadal your favorite or Federer?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  None of them were really my favorite.  Obviously you respect them because they're amazing players.  But probably Safin was my favorite, just to watch.  He was entertaining.  Yeah, probably him.
But I try not to like idolize people too much.  I just like to take little bits of everyone and apply it into my game.

Q.  How exciting is it to be there and answer questions?
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  Yeah, it's pretty cool.  My first time.  Thank you for asking questions, yeah (smiling).

Q.  One day you'll be fed up with this.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS:  I'm waiting for that day.  I need to get a bit better first.

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