Australian tennis legend Mark Philippoussis says that teenage sensation Thanasi Kokkinakis won’t feel the pressure in 2016. The 19-year-old is currently ranked 80th and is one of three teenagers inside the top 100. The former world number eight became an informal mentor to Kokkinakis after the teen split with his longtime coach Todd Langman and will work with Ben Mathias for the upcoming year.
Kokkinakis’ Standout Results
The last two seasons saw Kokkinakis reach the second round of the Australian Open. This year, he capped off a memorable first round win over Ernests Gulbis in front of the always raucous Aussie Fanatics. At Delray Beach this year, Kokkinakis went through qualifying and found himself in the main draw. He won his opening match before crashing out to Ivo Karlovic in two tiebreaks. In Indian Wells, he made his first career round of 16 appearance at Masters 1000 event. He defeated Juan Monaco in a tight, controversial three-setter before falling to countryman Bernard Tomic.
His lone title of the year came in Bordeaux at a Challenger event. The Aussie had to go through qualifying to get into the main draw, but once he did, he carried that momentum to the title. He won seven matches overall, five main draw matches, defeating Thiemo de Bakker in the final.
"There’s no pressure. For people to have expectations on you is a beautiful thing, but in the end it’s up to him how he does and how hard he works and how much he wants it," Philippoussis told the Adelaide Advertiser. "But I believe that he can improve a lot even though he’s pretty rounded. He’s just going to get better. He’s strong and he had a breakout year when people started to notice him. I believe next year he’s going to have an even bigger year. The world is his oyster."