Thanasi Kokkinakis’ tennis renaissance has come to a screeching halt with the Australian Open fan-favourite squandering the chance to set up a blockbuster clash with red-hot Rafael Nadal.
The 25-year-old snared his maiden ATP Tour title in Adelaide last week but couldn’t replicate that form at Melbourne Park on Monday as he suffered a shock 6-2 6-3 6-2 first-round defeat to German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann.
It was world No.126 Hanfmann’s first victory in seven attempts at a grand slam.
And it came amid a flurry of unforced errors from the local fancy as Kokkinakis gifted his opponent 42 points and failed to capitalise on any of the eight break points he earned.
Had he advanced, Kokkinakis would have matched his best singles result at a grand slam and ridden a six-match winning streak into a second-round meeting with 20-time major winner Nadal.
Instead, he was left to ponder what might have been, exiting in the Australian Open first round for the third time in six career appearances.
Injury-plagued Kokkinakis rode a wave of emotion and the support of a delirious home fans to win the Adelaide International 2 last week.
He was backed again by an enthusiastic crowd at Melbourne Park but never looked in the hunt, coughing up 13 unforced errors in the first and second sets, and 16 in the third.
Hanfmann pounced to book a date with sixth seed Nadal, who underlined his title credentials with a 6-1 6-4 6-2 demolition of American Marcos Giron earlier on Monday.