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Kokkinakis books dream date with Djokovic; Murray owns Duckworth in bionic men battle

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27th June, 2022
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Thanasi Kokkinakis has led the Australian assault on Wimbledon, setting up a clash with champion Novak Djokovic after a straight-sets opening day victory.

Thanasi Kokkinakis “can’t wait” after breaking his Wimbledon hoodoo to set up a second-round blockbuster with three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Five long years since his last appearance at the All England Club, Kokkinakis continued his 2022 renaissance with a watershed 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 7-5 victory over Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak on Monday.

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After two previous first-round defeats, plus two unsuccessful qualifying campaigns, the 26-year-old is finally savouring his maiden win on London’s hallowed grass courts.

“I’m super happy with how the result panned out. A lot of doubt coming into the tournament. Wasn’t sure how I’d pull up, how I’d play, if I would even play,” Kokkinakis said, having hurt his left knee in an on-court tumble at Surbiton three weeks ago.

The South Australian’s rich reward is a show-court showdown on Wednesday with Djokovic, the 20-times grand slam champion chasing a seventh Wimbledon crown – and fourth straight.

“Can’t wait. Can’t wait for the opportunity,” Kokkinakis said.

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“Definitely was in the back of my mind playing that match. I obviously saw the draw.

“I’m not one of those people that doesn’t look ahead. I knew I had a tough match obviously first, but definitely knew what was at stake.”

Djokovic earlier opened his title bid with a scratchy 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Korean Soonwoo Kwon under a closed roof on centre court.

Kokkinakis, who also landed his maiden ATP title in January in Adelaide, was the only Australian winner on a rain-marred day one of the championships.

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James Duckworth’s big day on the Wimbledon centre court stage against the venue’s biggest hero has ended in victory for the indefatigable Andy Murray.

James Duckworth has succumbed in the battle of the medical miracle men, ground down under the centre-court lights by Wimbledon’s ever-beloved hero Andy Murray.

The endlessly resilient Duckworth, who’s bounced back from 10 surgeries, was still no match for the man with the metal hip as Murray, cheered to the rafters by his centre-court disciples, came from a set down to win 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 on Monday night.

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Sydney’s Duckworth, trying to become the first player ever to knock out the two-time Wimbledon champion out in the first round at his home slam, scented blood against the Scottish veteran who’s been struggling recently with an abdominal injury, as he took the opening stanza.

But his wretched recent sequence of eight straight tour-level losses continued as a match that began as an outdoor battle ended under the illuminated roof at 9.35pm at the All England Club.

Duckworth had been left muttering to the chair umpire about not being able to see properly as the darkness crept in during the third set, hoping for the roof to be closed.

It eventually was near the end of that stanza at Murray’s request, leaving Duckworth to moan to the official: “If he asks, they come on …”

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There was a new spark to Duckworth’s game after the 10-minute break for the roof to be closed but, with the scores locked at 4-4, the Australian delivered a nervy service game, coughing up a double fault to gift the decisive break.

Seventeen years since his first centre-court win, Murray then closed out the victory in two hours 43 minutes, proving still that he has a granite will to go with his metal hip.

John Millman bowed out with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 6-4 loss to Serbia’s 25th seed Miomir Kecmanovic, while brave Sydney qualifier Max Purcell fell to Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in a three-hour, 53-minute epic.

Playing with a lost big toe nail on his right foot, Purcell rallied back from two sets down to force a decider, only to succumb 6-3 7-6 (7-0) 4-6 4-6 6-4 in his first-ever five-set encounter.

Maddison Inglis couldn’t extend her run from qualifying either, going down 5-7 6-3 6-4 to Hungarian Dalma Galfi. 

Astra Sharma will resume her tussle with Germany’s Tatjana Maria on Tuesday after the match was suspended under fading light at one set apiece, with the Australian to serve at 6-4 3-6.

Fellow qualifier Zoe Hives and wildcard Daria Saville had their scheduled matches postponed until day two.

© AAP

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