Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis ended an eight-year run without a win at Roland Garros by beating Dan Evans to reach the French Open second round on Sunday, but now faces “the toughest draw”.
The 27-year-old saw off British 20th seed Evans 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to win on the Paris clay for the first time since reaching the last 32 as a teenager in 2015.
Kokkinakis will face either former champion Stan Wawrinka or veteran Spanish clay-courter Albert Ramos-Vinolas in round two.
If he was to make a remarkable run to the final, like his good friend Nick Kyrgios did last year at Wimbledon, he may then have to beat 11th seed Karen Khachanov, seventh seed Andrey Rublev, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.
“Someone sent me my path to the final, obviously ambitious, but it’s one of the toughest draws I’ve ever seen,” said the World No. 108.
“But I probably wasn’t expected to win today either so I’ll rest up, recover and see what I can do.”
The talented Kokkinakis has been plagued by injuries in his career so far.
Last season was the first year he had played in the main draw of every Grand Slam tournament since 2015.
“When it feels like half of your career has been kind of taken away, you hope you can have a bit at the back end,” Kokkinakis said.
“As long as my body is able to... we’ll see. There was a point when we didn’t think I’d play that much longer and I was 22 years old. I’m 27 now and who knows. Winning is addictive and losing makes you want to quit tennis.”
Kokkinakis has produced some eye-catching performances in the past, including a victory over Roger Federer at the 2018 Miami Open.
He claimed his first top-10 win since then against Andrey Rublev in Adelaide earlier this year and came through qualifying to reach the second round at the Indian Wells, Miami and Rome Masters events.
But he does not think he will keep playing well into his 30s in an attempt to make up for lost time.
“I know I can’t do this forever. Whatever I do choose, I try not to take it for granted... I know where I was many years ago when I was missing out and not having opportunities.
“You never know but I find it hard to see myself playing like these guys you see playing past 35, 36. There’s so much travel, from Australia constantly. Your social life pretty much goes out the window.”
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