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Kokkinakis Follows Up Upset Of Roger Federer With Heated Loss To Verdasco In Miami Open Tennis

Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia in action Fernando Verdasco of Spain during a third round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 26 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER



By Ricky Dimon


Thanasi Kokkinakis scored the biggest win of his career in the Miami Open second round, when he stunned world No. 1 and 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) on Saturday afternoon.


What a difference two days make.


Fernando Verdasco of Spain reacts after defeating Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia during a third round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 26 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

Enduring a similarly competitive but much less fun affair, Kokkinakis came out on the losing end of a heated battle against Fernando Verdasco during third-round action on Monday. Complete with a testy exchange during one changeover, the Verdasco-Kokkinakis clash finally ended with the Spaniard getting the job done 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) after two hours and 54 minutes.


Nick Kyrgios, Kokkinakis’ good friend and fellow Aussie who never shies away from controversy, threw himself into the mix after watching the incident in which Verdasco accused someone–Kokkinakis’ dad as it turned out–of disrupting him while serving. In a tweet Kyrgios later deleted, he penned, “I hope TK wins this match, Verdasco is the saltiest dude…. must be frustrated at his past success against Aussies.”


Verdasco not only responded but also apparently blocked Kyrgios on Twitter.


The 34-year-old wrote, “@NickKyrgios when you have the courage to put a tweet insulting another player you need to have the same to don’t delete it.”


A spicy Kyrgios-Verdasco collision could come later in the tournament, but not until the semis. The world No. 20 earned his place in the fourth round by beating Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3.


“I knew it was going to be tough,” Kyrgios said of Fognini. “He has a lot of tricks up his sleeve and he’s very unpredictable. I knew I just had to serve well, play aggressive, and keep the points short. When he gets in a rhythm he’s pretty dangerous.”


Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev will now square off for the sixth time in their careers and for the sixth time in the last 13 months when they clash on Tuesday. The most entertaining chapter of this friendly rivalry has come at this same Miami event in 2017, when Kyrgios won 6-4, 6-7(9), 6-3. He leads the overall head-to-head series 3-2, but Zverev has taken two of their past three meetings–including via a 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-2 decision in the Davis Cup first round.


Kyrgios was plagued by an elbow injury during Davis Cup and it kept him out of the entire February swing and Indian Wells. When healthy, though, he has been a force. He is 10-2 in 2018 with a title in Brisbane, a fourth-round performance at the Australian Open, and Miami routs of Fognini and Dusan Lajovic. Zverev is 10-4 this season following three-set wins over Daniil Medvedev and David Ferrer.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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