John Millman says he will have to be on his guard when facing compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis in the opening round of the Adelaide International on Monday.
Millman, 32, is currently ranked 72nd in the world and finished 2021 strongly with five quarter-final appearances from his last nine events.
But Kokkinakis shapes as a testing challenge for Millman having shown his wares on home soil in a five-set thriller with world No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas at last year’s Australian Open.
“I think he (Kokkinakis) plays really well in Australia,” said Millman, whose last outing was a shock Davis Cup loss to Hungary’s world No.282 Zsombor Piro.
This years’ ballkids are all smiles and ready to go for the 2022 Adelaide International 😁🎾 #AdelaideTennis pic.twitter.com/c6R82Wbcen
— Adelaide International (@AdelaideTennis) January 2, 2022
“We know when he’s on his game, when his body is good, mentally and physically he’s fit, he can play really a high level of tennis.
“I think he appreciates playing at home in Australia.
“We saw how well he went at the Australian Open last year, really taking it to (Stefanos) Tsitsipas, one of the best players in the game currently. I think it’s a tough test against Thanasi.
“The first match of the year is always a little bit tricky. You’re always trying to find that sharpness, find your game. Hopefully I can find my feet as early as possible in that one.”
Despite his impressive showing at the back end of 2021, Millman comes into this tournament having encountered issues with injury last year.
The Australian withdrew from Roland Garros with a back complaint but said he was feeling fit, even if he was carrying a few niggles.
“Managing your body’s always a bit of a battle the older you get,” he said.
“I’ve figured that out. I’ve got some back and hip stuff that I kind of just have to kind of manage throughout the season.
“I’m still trying to manage that. But hopefully I’ll be good to go.”
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