The 27-year-old Australian, ranked 108th in the world, emerged victorious with a scoreline of 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 after a marathon battle lasting four hours and 38 minutes.
Reflecting on his hard-fought victory, Kokkinakis expressed his relief and admiration for his opponent. He praised Wawrinka, a three-time major winner, as a “legend” of the sport, acknowledging the Swiss player’s impressive performance in the first set. Kokkinakis admitted that he was struggling to find his rhythm initially but managed to hang in and eventually turn the match in his favour.
“I feel better now that I’ve won. What a match. I know Stan is getting older, but in the first set, he was playing the best. I was nowhere, just hanging in,” Kokkinakis said.
Kokkinakis’s journey to the third round of a Grand Slam has been hindered by various physical and medical issues. A shoulder injury limited his participation to just one singles match between November 2015 and May 2017. Furthermore, he missed the entire 2020 season due to mono, and in 2022, he underwent sinus surgery.
Reflecting on his tumultuous journey, Kokkinakis described his story as “pretty crazy.” Having burst onto the scene as a promising young player, he encountered setbacks that kept him away from the spotlight for several years. However, his recent victory against Wawrinka marks a significant milestone in his career.
In the next round, Kokkinakis will face either Russian 11th seed Karen Khachanov or Moldova’s Radu Albot as he aims to secure a spot in the last 16 of the French Open. The Australian will be looking to build on his impressive performance and continue his remarkable comeback in the tournament.
(With inputs from AFP)