Arthur Rinderknech failed to imitate Gaël Monfils. For the second opus of the Adelaide tournament, the Frenchman stumbled in the final, a week after the coronation of the N.1 tricolor. Rinderknech was beaten by one of the local darlings, Thanasi Kokkinakis, a native of the city and winner of his first title after a fine final (6-7, 7-6, 6-3). The Varois, also looking for his first trophy on the ATP circuit, will have to wait. But he confirmed a little more his rise to power for two years. The timing seems ideal, before competing for the first time the Australian Open, at age 26.
Rinderknech may still harbor some regrets. Because the player trained on the North American university circuit passed very close to the big night. The right-hander tied, almost perfectly even, with his opponent in a duel of servers settled like cuckoo clocks for two sets. Not the slightest break point, aces in spades (33 in total), percentage of points on first ball worthy of the elite… The fight was played on a few points which changed everything.
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This point lost by the Australian at 7-6 in the tie-break of the first set allowed Arthur Rinderknech to turn in the lead and establish a little more what seemed to be an ironclad confidence. He even led 2-0 in the second tie-break of the day, before suddenly losing his footing, forcing his face-off more and losing five points against a confident Kokkinakis.
A round everywhere, but more in control, the Frenchman could only bow, not without having fought 2h38 against a player with certain talent and carried by an ecstatic public. “I wish you were a little bit more behind me today, preferred to smile Rinderknech after the match. You have a very handsome champion. I was a little tight to win, but I gave it my all.“
Beyond the 1000th place in the world two and a half years ago, Arthur Rinderknech will at least be able to console himself with the best ranking of his career on Monday and an entry into the Top 50 (48th in the world). He will approach his Australian Open entry as a fit man, although he will have to be wary of another Australian talent still looking for the explosion, Alexei Popyrin.
Thanasi Kokkinakis, for his part, is reviving the promises sown by brilliant junior years, but weighed down by numerous injuries in recent years. Semi-finalist last week already in Adelaide, the 25-year-old could quickly become one of the itchy hairs of the season if he maintains a similar level of play, well above his current ATP ranking (he will be 103rd on Monday) . That’s good, a possible second round against Rafael Nadal awaits him in Melbourne in a few days.