Kokkinakis: Olympics always my goal this year
Published 4 August 2016 (AEDT)
TENNIS: Australian tennis team member Thanasi Kokkinakis has had the Olympic Games as his number one goal for this year as he recovered from shoulder surgery at the end of December last year.
“I am stoked to be here, this was my number one goal going into this year, it is my first tournament for the year but for me this was very important,” said Kokkinakis.
“It is going to be tough but I have been hitting the ball well in practice but I know that matches and match fitness are always different. I am really looking forward to getting out there and playing.
“My coaches were hesitant of me coming over, they said 'you have an Olympics four years down the track' and obviously my goal is to be there in four years but you never know what is going to happen down the track.
“Luckily for me my ranking was protected because of my injury which enabled me to take my place and whilst I had the chance to compete at the Olympic Games I was determined to grab it with both hands”.
It wasn’t the smoothest of starts in Rio for Kokkinakis as whilst he arrived safely in Rio, his bags didn’t so he has had to rely on his teammates for equipment for his practice sessions at the Olympic Tennis Centre.
“It has been an interesting start, I have been using Alicia’s (Molik’s) racquet and luckily Chris Guccione brought me some shoes when he arrived,” he said.
“There are also a lot of players and not that many practice courts with only 45 minute slots for practice, sometimes you need to practice at weird hours to get on court so I am feeling a little be behind the eight ball but I am just doing what I can and going with it”.
Whilst keen to get on court and test out his shoulder, Kokkinakis revealed that the wider Olympic experience is just as important to him.
“Along with playing and making sure my shoulder is healthy my main priority is to get out and see other sports and soak up the atmosphere", Kokkinakis said. “I want to try and get to as many other sports as I can because this experience and opportunity doesn’t come around too often.
“I am loving it so far; the village and the dining hall are pretty cool, it kind of feels a little bit like I am on school camp,” he said. “Usually we have a room by ourselves but it is cool rooming with the other guys, it is good to talk and hang out with them and I am really happy to be here”.