Australian tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis has been cruelled by injuries.
Australian tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis has been cruelled by injuries. Lukas Coch

Injury doubts clouding Kokkinakis' future

TENNIS: Tennis Australia cannot say when Thanasi Kokkinakis will play again this year in another frustration for its drive to improve the country's tennis stocks.

Pat Rafter's announcement last week that he would step down as the supremo of Australian tennis made it a good time to examine how the country performed in his two years in the role as performance director.

When Rafter was appointed in November 2014, Australia had five players in the men's top 100 and 10 in the top 200.

Last week, Australia had three top-100 men and seven in the top 200.

On the upside, Australia has two top-40 men - Nick Kyrgios (16) and Bernard Tomic (31) - while in 2014 Lleyton Hewitt had been the top-ranked Australian at No.49.

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson won the doubles in Brisbane in January.

"Injury played a big part in that (current statistic) on the men's side of things. There were times in the last two years when Thanasi and John Millman were in the top 100 before they were injured," Rafter's replacement Wally Masur said.

"The Australian summer was pretty positive in terms of the rankings movement of younger players Alex de Minaur, Destanee Aiava and Jaimee Fourlis.

"One of the big disappointments is that Thanasi hasn't played since 2015 but when he stopped to have his (shoulder) operation he was ranked in the sixties. Thanasi is almost distraught that he hasn't played."

Kokkinakis won the ATP Brisbane doubles title last month with Jordan Thompson but a stomach muscle strain a week later sidelined him from all tournaments since in the South Australian's latest injury setback.

"He's had a few false starts. I spoke with the Kokkinakis camp not long ago and the mood was very much for a slowly, slowly approach," Masur said.

"He's desperate to play (but) they don't want him to go through any more hiccups."

TA's heads of men's and women's tennis Jason Stoltenberg and Nicole Pratt and national team captains Lleyton Hewitt and Alicia Molik all report to Masur in his new role.

"Lleyton was very heavily involved in the broader Davis Cup squad and the younger players this summer and we saw the potential that structure with some of the results," Masur said.

"I've worked closely with Pat over the past couple of years so it's not as if I'm walking into something that isn't evolved or not up and running. As much as anything my initial time will be spent bedding down some of the changes.

"We have had our national academies which absorbed the Australian Institute of Sport program and there was some streamlining with coaches last year as opposed to coaches being assigned to individual players.

"Having the head coach in each state was seen as (having) two layers of administrations or guidance in a young athlete's career."

News Corp Australia


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