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Kokkinakis and Hewitt at 'loggerheads' as secret feud revealed ahead of Australian Open

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 10 Jan 2019
  • Kokkinakis and Hewitt have had a falling out
  • Their feud dates back to the 2017 Davis Cup semi-finals in which Hewitt overlooked Kokkinakis for selection
  • The young Aussie wasn't awarded a wildcard into the Australian Open
Thanasi Kokkinakis and Lleyton Hewitt during a double match at Wimbledon in 2015 (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

A private feud spanning the better part of two years between two Australian tennis figures has been revealed ahead of next week’s Australian Open.

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Eyebrows were raised when rising star Thanasi Kokkinakis was denied a wildcard into the Australian Open main draw earlier this month, with the 22-year-old - who beat Roger Federer in Miami last year - forced to battle his way through qualifying instead.

However, the decision now makes sense after SEN tennis expert Brett Phillips revealed that Kokkinakis has been in the middle of a secret feud with Australian legend Lleyton Hewitt, dating back to the 2017 Davis Cup semi-finals.

In what was another surprising call at the time, Kokkinakis was overlooked for a spot in the Australian team to play Belgium, with captain Hewitt opting to go with John Millman. Ever since that moment, Kokkinakis and Hewitt haven’t seen eye to eye.

"It’s a bit of a delicate subject, the whole Thanasi Kokkinakis situation, because basically he’s had a falling out with Lleyton Hewitt," Phillips told SEN Afternoons.
"If you fall out with Lleyton Hewitt, you’re on the back foot.
"I know there’s been some meetings in Sydney about it this week to try and rectify the situation – they're at loggerheads at the moment.
"It goes back to the Davis Cup, we’re going back not last year but the year before when he was part of the team that lost that semi-final and you might remember that John Millman got the nod late. Millman’s practice form had been a lot better, he got the nod ahead of Kokkinakis, despite Kokkinakis having a better ranking, and he basically sulked from there.
"He wouldn’t actually come out and support the team, he was invited last year to be part of the squad as well and refused to travel with the Davis Cup squad…it’s a bit of a mess."

There’s also talk that Hewitt doesn’t believe Kokkinakis has been working hard enough during his multiple comebacks from serious injury problems, while the young Aussie also doesn’t think he should be playing the role of Davis Cup orange boy at this juncture in his career.

However, in addition to the reported meetings in Sydney this week, there is a chance for some reconciliation in the near future, with Hewitt’s old coach Darren Cahill a big advocate for Kokkinakis, with the pair - who are both from Adelaide - even training together on Christmas Day.

Kokkinakis was aware he probably wouldn’t be awarded a wildcard months before the Australian Open, telling Sport360 this week that it was a ‘funny situation’.

“That’s a very funny situation which I’m not going to comment on but I knew this could be a possibility from a few months ago,” Kokkinakis said.
“I have a lot of motivation but it’s trying to find the balance between being calm and playing calm and being too fired up until you’re very nervy on court just because you want to prove [something] to some people. I’m just going to try to play my game, I know where my level is at, I know I just got to focus and I can play good enough.”

Kokkinakis is currently through to the final round of qualifying at Melbourne Park following straight set wins over Mohamed Safwat and Sebastian Ofner.

He’ll face Canada’s Peter Polansky for a place in the main draw on Friday.

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Kokkinakis and Hewitt at "loggerheads" as secret feud revealed ahead of Australian Open

A private feud spanning the better part of two years between two Australian tennis figures has been revealed ahead of next week’s Australian Open.

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