The Unexpected Presence of Thanasi Kokkinaki and the Unique Tale of Lleyton Hewitt

Thanasi Kokkinakis has revealed he’s no certainty to be available for the Davis Cup finals later this month, posing an unwanted headache for captain Lleyton Hewitt. Australia will take part in the eight-team finals of the Davis Cup competition from November 21, looking to go one better than their runner-up finish in 2022.

But Hewitt could be without one of his most experienced players after Kokkinakis suffered an ankle injury at the NSW Open last week. Kokkinakis revealed on Friday that he’s racing the clock to be fit in time for the Davis Cup finals in Spain, but is no certainty to take his place.

Hewitt copped some flak for showing loyalty to Kokkinakis during the group stage in September. The Aussie captain opted to play Kokkinakis in their first tie against Great Britain, despite having higher-ranked players Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell at his disposal.

Thanasi Kokkinakis, pictured here at the NSW Open.Kokkinakis went down to Jack Draper as Australia lost the tie, before he was replaced by Purcell in the second. But Hewitt produced a tactical masterstroke when he opted to bring Kokkinakis back for the all-important tie against Switzerland, which the Aussies won 3-0 to punch their ticket to the finals.

Davis Cup 2022: Australia def Hungary, score, results Thanasi Kokkinakis,  Alex de Minaur

Kokkinakis repaid Hewitt’s faith in spades, with the World No.74 defeating Dominic Stricker 6-3 7-5 in the opening rubber. It snapped a run of three-consecutive Davis Cup defeats for Kokkinakis, who felt a wave of relief at finally breaking through for his country.

“Relief, honestly, after the other day, just pure relief,” Kokkinakis said after this key victory. “I’m not going to lie, I was fighting some demons there towards the end. If you lose, you feel like you’ve let everyone down so it’s tough, I’m not going to lie.”

Lleyton Hewitt's masterstroke move as Aussies advance to Davis Cup finals

Australia are slated to play the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals, and will take on the winner of Canada and Finland if they advance. Hewitt will be hopeful of having Kokkinakis at the ready as he strives to avenge last year’s loss in the final to Canada.

“Who knows?” Hewitt said about whether or not his side could go all the way this time. “We gave ourselves a great opportunity last year and the boys got a taste for it. We want to try and push a little bit harder and see if we can climb that mountain and I feel like I’ve got the boys that are able to do that.”

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