Thanasi Kokkinakis was a rare shining light after a disastrous 24 hours for Australia’s men as he defeated Benoit Paire at the Adelaide International 2 on Tuesday.
After Nick Kyrgios tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, Bernard Tomic claimed he also had the virus after losing his qualifier and amid a multitude of other disappointing results, Kokkinakis triumphed over the world No.47 6-4 6-0.
The victory over the Frenchman is another step in the right direction for Kokkinakis, who progressed to the semi-finals of last week’s Adelaide International 1 before losing to world No.19 Gael Monfils of France.
“Every year brings new challenges,” he said.
“I think this is probably the best prepared I’ve been for a year.
“Who knows how the rest of the year is going to pan out. I couldn’t be happier with the way it started.”
The world No.145’s victory was one of few positives for Australia on Tuesday, with American Steve Johnson proving too strong for Alex Bolt as he won 6-4 6-4 in Adelaide.
At the Sydney Tennis Classic, meanwhile, the scenario was even bleaker for the Australians.
Spain’s Pedro Martinez downed Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-4 after the Australian lost serve in the very first game of the match at Ken Rosewall Arena.
Popyrin recovered in the second set to break Martinez but, no sooner had he done so, the Spaniard clicked into gear and broke twice to wrap up victory.
The defeat follows Popyrin’s second-round exit at last week’s Melbourne Summer Set to Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor and the defeats don’t bode well for the 22-year-old’s hopes of improving on last year’s second-round exit.
Popyrin’s fellow Sydneysider Christopher O’Connell also tasted defeat at his home event on Tuesday as he battled valiantly against Sebastian Baez before falling 6-2 1-6 7-6 (7-4) after over two hours of play.
The Argentinian charged to an early lead before O’Connell played a near faultless second set to get back on level terms.
Baez, however, triumphed in the third-set tiebreak as O’Connell’s service game deserted him when it mattered most with the local dropping points on his own serve on three separate occasions.