Fit Kokkinakis ready for Aus Open chance | Ralph-Lauren

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A fit-again Thanasi Kokkinakis is ironically well-prepared for another Australian Open campaign.

Quarantine periods with strict training windows and in some cases two-week hard lockdowns have hampered the preparations of those arriving for the COVID-19-impacted grand slam.

But, forever battling against the grain because of injury, the South Australian wildcard will enter the Open from February 8 with a clean bill of health and a scientific advantage over many of his rivals.

“Severe changes to training schedules and environments will significantly impact on players as they struggle to prevent physiological and biochemical decay,” University of South Australia professor Kevin Norton said.

The exercise scientist said players’ decision-making ability and resilience could be impacted by being stuck in air-conditioned hotel rooms and offer those not in quarantine “a once-in-a-lifetime match point”.

It’s a welcome change of fortune for the 24-year-old, who was floored by glandular fever this time last year in the latest setback to a career plagued by injury since his Australian Open debut in 2014.

First he dealt with stress fractures in the back, then he seriously hurt his knee after tripping on on-court signage during a match.

Kokkinakis also hurt his shoulder lifting weights “trying to bulk up a bit” in anticipation of wearing a sleeveless top in 2018 and has also dealt with groin and pectoral injuries.

Despite all that he has peaked at No.69 in the world and has the scalp of Roger Federer among a host of top-20 players to his name.

After years of setbacks, Kokkinakis will begin his campaign as the world No.264 ready to exploit any weaknesses.

“I’m super stoked … it’s going to be unreal to be back out there with that crowd and hopefully the energy is the same as it has been before,” he said.

“I’ve tried to get a couple of matches in but I feel really good, really fit and ready to compete.”

He said long-time mentor and two-time grand slam finalist Mark Philippoussis had stepped in when he was unable to work in-person with his Adelaide-based coaches due to border restrictions.

“He’s a legend; been good to me for years as a bit of a mentor and just hitting some balls and talking with him,” Kokkinakis said.

“He’s just a really good guy that’s liked to help me out when he can.”

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