Thanasi Kokkinakis won his first ATP 1000 match since 2018 but it was overshadowed by his inability to find any shade in the Miami heat.
Sometimes you have to throw shade to get shade.
But the chair umpire failed to see the light after Thanasi Kokkinakis’ desperate attempt to convince him about the stupidity of a rule preventing him from hiding from the hot Miami sun.
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It was 26C and humid in Florida as Kokkinakis returned to the scene of one of his most famous victories and recorded an encouraging 6-3 6-3 win over Japanese 17-year-old Shintaro Mochizuki.
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It was at the 2018 Miami Open the 24-year-old from Adelaide showed his undoubted quality by upsetting Roger Federer as No. 176-ranked qualifier.
Friday’s win was Kokkinakis’ first at ATP 1000 level for three years but it was overshadowed by his inability to find any shade.
Kokkinakis was surprised when he was told the ball kids on hand were not allowed to hold an umbrella provided to shield him from the sun.
He said they had been allowed to during his final match of qualifying and struggled to see the sense in the COVID prevention measure given the ball kids were handing him tennis balls throughout the match.
Unable to convince the chair umpire, a supervisor was called. The chair umpire reportedly told him: “Kokkinakis is not getting any shade and I told him he has to hold his own umbrella, that’s what we were told and he said could we get a confirmation because it’s the stupidest rule and he’d like to hear it from you basically.”
Kokkinakis recovered from 0-40 in the opening game of the first set before Mochizuki handed him a break with a double fault in the fourth game.
The second set began with three straight breaks of serve before Kokkinakis took control to see off the former junior world number one, who won the 2019 junior Wimbledon title and was making his Masters 1000 debut.
“It was amazing to be there,” said Mochizuki. “I won two matches in qualifying. I was confident about the match, but he kept hitting big and he was a lot better than me.”
Kokkinakis, who is continuing his comeback from a shoulder injury and pushed Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets at the Australian Open in February, will next play No. 29 seed Marton Fucsovics.
Fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson is also into the round of 64 after defeating Argentina’s Federico Delbonis 7-6 6-4. He now meets 12th seed Milos Raonic.