THANASI Kokkinakis has got game — just ask Daria Gavrilova.
The tennis stars are in Perth representing Australia at the Hopman Cup but had time to let their hair down at the tournament’s New Year’s Eve Ball on Sunday night.
Fresh from defeating Canada in their tie as Kokkinakis overcame Vasek Pospisil in three sets and Gavrilova demolished Eugenie Bouchard 6-1 6-4 — relegating the overseas team’s mixed doubles victory to a mere consolation — the pair were in good spirits as they rang in the new year.
Tennis writer Carole Bouchard was at the ball and let the Twittersphere know what Gavrilova thinks of Kokkinakis’s work with the ladies.
Bouchard also revealed what Angelique Kerber wants her German partner Alexander Zverev to work on in 2018, while 36-year-old Roger Federer feels every bit his age playing alongside 20-year-old Swiss compatriot Belinda Bencic.
Kokkinakis has been dogged by injuries over the past two years, with shoulder, groin, elbow, and abdominal problems threatening to cut short his promising career.
The 21-year-old hadn’t played since losing in the first round of the US Open in August but he displayed little rust in his solid win over Pospisil. Kokkinakis has been doing pilates during the off-season in a bid to strengthen his core and groins.
The world No. 209 said it had been shattering to miss the past two Australian Opens but hopes he can enjoy a clean bill of health in 2018.
“I feel good. It’s the best I’ve felt in a while,” Kokkinakis said. “It’s pretty funny. When I see new people, or people I haven’t seen for a while, it’s not even, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ They say, ‘How’s the body?’
“I’m excited to be back on Australia’s hard courts. The summer of tennis is huge.
“It’s a good start and hopefully I can stay healthy this year — it’s my only goal.”
Kokkinakis made a bright start to his match against Pospisil, with the crucial moment of the match coming in the sixth game of the third set. Pospisil saved three break points from 0-40 down, before Kokkinakis set up another break point and duly converted.
Kokkinakis held serve from that point on to secure the win in one hour and 53 minutes.
Australia’s next tie is against Belgian duo David Goffin and Elise Mertens on Wednesday night.
LESS IS MORE FOR ROGER FEDERER
Less has become more for world No. 2 Roger Federer as he attempts to extend his dazzling career beyond 2018.
Federer remains a giant of the sport at age 36, winning two grand slam titles in a dream 2017, including the Australian Open.
But after spending most of 2016 on the sidelines with a career-threatening knee injury, Federer knows he needs to take it easy with his body. Federer injured his knee while running a bath for his twins, and he knows he might be just one more serious injury away from having his career ended.
But for the moment he has no thoughts of retirement.
Instead, he is eyeing off more grand slam success, and he believes the key to achieving that is by training smarter, instead of harder.
“Through the injury I sustained here in Australia a couple of years ago, my mindset has changed,” Federer said.
“I probably work less, with even more quality. So it gives me more time off.
“Essentially I’m working half days if you like, because there’s no point for me to put in all the mega hours anymore, because I know I have it in the vault, I have it there if need be. “That’s why I think it was very important for me to prove to myself at the Australian Open this year — to win those three five setters that I had. (And also win) the two five-setters I had at the US Open.
“I won all the big matches when it came down to the crunch. I know I can do it, and it’s important to stay injury free.”
Federer made a perfect start to his Hopman Cup campaign with a 6-4 6-3 win over Japan’s Yuichi Sugita.
Switzerland went on to win the tie 3-0, and they’ll be back in action on Tuesday night when they take on Russia at Perth Arena.
Federer will face off against Karen Khachanov, with former world No. 7 Belinda Bencic to take on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
— with AAP