Tennis-Kokkinakis sees off Cilic, Keys to face Riske in Adelaide final

Nottingham Open
FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Nottingham Open - Nottingham Tennis Centre, Nottingham, Britain - June 7, 2021 Australia's Thanasi Kokkinakis in action during his round of 32 match against Britain's Dan Evans Action Images via Reuters/Molly Darlington

January 14, 2022

ADELAIDE (Reuters) -Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis reached his first ATP final in almost five years after battling fourth seed Marin Cilic at the Adelaide International 2 tournament on Friday, while Madison Keys sealed a comeback victory over third seed Coco Gauff.

Local hope Kokkinakis beat Cilic 6-2 3-6 7-6(10) in two hours and 38 minutes, reaching his career-second ATP final since the Los Cabos Open in Mexico in August 2017.

The 25-year-old prevailed against world number 29 Cilic in a lengthy tie-breaker, edging the former U.S. Open champion 12-10 in the decider.

“I was just playing on adrenaline,” Kokkinakis said in his on-court interview before thanking the home crowd for their support. “You guys got me through honestly.

“I am going to enjoy this tonight, as much as I can, and get my body mentally and physically ready for tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough final.”

In Saturday’s title clash, Kokkinakis will face Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, who will be playing in his first ATP final after beating compatriot Corentin Moutet 6-1 6-3.

World number 58 Rinderknech, who sent down six aces, won 90% of points on his first serve and broke his opponent four times in a controlled display on Centre Court to win in 76 minutes.

“It’s a great achievement,” the 26-year-old Rinderknech told reporters. “I’m really happy to be in the final. It’s a new step again. I made the semi-final in Kitzbuhel last summer. Now final here for my first tournament of the year.”

In the women’s event, Keys booked herself a spot in the final by beating Gauff 3-6 6-2 7-5 in a close last set.

Keys will meet Alison Riske in an all-American title clash on Saturday. Riske advanced to the final after Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek withdrew from their semi-final match due to an abdominal injury.

It was the second straight withdrawal or retirement Riske benefited from en route to the final after Madison Brengle retired injured at 3-3 in their quarter-final match.

“Coco is a phenomenal player,” Keys, bidding to win her first title since Charleston in 2019, told reporters. “I knew I was going to have to play some of my best tennis.

“She’s such a good mover that you have to win the point two and three times because she’s so good at resetting the point.”

Keys described finalist Riske as a “great fighter”.

“Her backhand down the line is phenomenal,” Keys added. “We played each other in practice like three weeks ago. I’m sure we both know a lot about the other one.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Christian Radnedge)