Thanasi Kokkinakis has completed an extraordinary semi-final win over Marin Cilic to advance to the Adelaide International Two final
Thanasi Kokkinakis will have the chance to win his maiden ATP Tour singles title on Saturday night in his home city.
In a scenario maybe not even Kokkinakis thought was within reach a fortnight ago, the comeback kid cut down another big-name star to qualify for the Adelaide International Two final.
Marin Cilic – the 2014 US Open champion and No.4 seed this week – was Kokkinakis’ latest victim in a 6-2 3-6 7-6(12-10) rollercoaster, as he surpassed last week’s already-impressive semi-final run.
It took until Kokkinakis’ seventh match point and for a Cilic forehand to find the net for him to survive, after he couldn’t convert four in a row earlier in the tie-break.
The Croatian had two match points of his own that came and went.
Fifteen minutes of Cilic brilliance threatened to rip the match from Kokkinakis’ grasp but the South Australian somehow snatched back control to book his second career ATP final.
Late-blooming Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech is now all that stands between Kokkinakis and a dream Adelaide title ahead of the Australian Open.
Cilic produced a magnificent burst of shot-making at the end of a competitive second set that briefly and wildly swung the contest.
Kokkinakis recovered from 15-40 in the eighth game of the second set, only for Cilic to belt back-to-back winners – one off each wing – to finally break his younger opponent.
The set was over a game later but Cilic wasn’t done.
He heaped the pressure on Kokkinakis again to start the third set, then the local favourite dumped a forehand in the net and double-faulted to hand over another break.
Playing his third three-setter in as many days and after a glorious fortnight, Kokkinakis had every right to roll over – but he refused to take the easy option.
Cilic fluffed a routine overhead to start the fourth game of the final set and that proved the impetus for Kokkinakis to rise again.
It took until Kokkinakis’ fourth break-back opportunity of the game to draw level, after Cilic sent down a series of service bombs to temporarily keep him at bay.
There were still more tests for Kokkinakis to pass, when he faced consecutive break points.
With Cilic having blasted his way to the net, Kokkinakis’ response was to hammer a highlight-reel backhand down-the-line winner from two metres beyond the baseline.
An ace followed and soon he was out of trouble.
Even more impressive was Kokkinakis’ ability to absorb and negotiate a series of tense moments in the tie-break as he made Saturday’s final.
Originally published as Adelaide International 2022: Thanasi Kokkinakis saves two match points to beat Marin Cilic and make second career ATP final
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