WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up Australian Open tips as in-form Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis takes on Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann in the first round.

Australian Open Tips – Thanasi Kokkinakis V Yannick Hanfmann

19:00 (AEDT), Mon 17th Jan @ Melbourne Park

History: First meeting

Final Thoughts: Wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis is coming off a watershed tournament victory to start as a resounding $1.28 favourite in his first-up Australian Open assignment – but heightened expectations shape as a new hurdle as he lines up against journeyman Yannick Hanfmann.

Kokkinakis has made a sizzling start to 2022 in Adelaide. He reached the semi-finals of the first Adelaide International, beating John Millman and Frances Tiafoe before going down to top seed Gael Monfils.

The 25-year-old South Australian then clinched his maiden ATP title in the second Adelaide tournament last week. He knocked over big guns John Isner and Marin Cilic on his way to the decider, where he came from a set down to defeat Arthur Rinderknech.

The triumph completes a stellar fight-back from injury-ravaged 2019-20 campaigns for the current world No.105.

Kokkinakis is searching for his fourth win in six Australian Open first-round matches; he is 5-7 in Grand Slam first-round matches overall. Last year in Melbourne he beat Kwon Soon-woo in straight sets before taking fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets in the second round.

Hanfmann is yet to win a Grand Slam match in six attempts. The 30-year-old lost to Andrey Rublev in straight sets on Australian Open debut last year.

A clay specialist, Hanfmann has a string of Challenger and ITF circuit titles to his name, as well as two ATP 250 Series finals (both on clay). While Kokkinakis was collecting trophies, Hanfmann was progressing through Australian Open qualifiers in his first tennis in nearly three months.

It’s been a potentially draining past fornight for Kokkinakis, physically and emotionally. But his confidence should be sky-high after taking down some big names – and form-wise he should have it all over Hanfmann. Perhaps most importantly, he must be wary of looking beyond the task at hand ahead of a likely second-round showdown with the great Rafael Nadal.

Tip: Games Handicap – Kokkinakis -5 @ $1.85


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