THANASI Kokkinakis overcame a late-match fall and compatriot Bernard Tomic to post a famous French Open victory.
In an epic display of courage and resilience, Kokkinakis needed two medical time-outs before recovering from 2-5 in the fifth set to secure a third-round clash with world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
Bloodied and bruised from an awkward tumble late in the fourth set, Kokkinakis clawed his way to the greatest grand slam victory of his career, 3-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 8-6.
The marathon triumph, spread over 3hrs, 22mins, pushes Kokkinakis to a provisional career-high ranking of No 68 — and cements his reputation as a supreme fighter.
The Adelaide teenager is confident his bruised and bloodied right hip injury will not be a negative factor when he takes on the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion,
“My hip is pretty sore,” he said. “It’s pretty bruised right now, but that’s all right.
“We’ll see how it pulls up.”
Kokkinakis collapsed in disbelief and joy after saving three match points to deny Tomic.
In a bizarre episode which changed the contest, Kokkinakis stumbled and fell on his racquet while attempting to parry a defensive forehand back in the ninth game of the fourth set.
He landed flush on the racquet, injuring his right hip and thigh.
Renowned for his toughness, Kokkinakis writhed on the court before Tomic and the chair umpire went to his assistance.
Caked in clay and uncertain of the extent of the injury, Kokkinakis needed treatment before serving out the set to level the match.
It was apparent in the fifth set, when Kokkinakis required treatment on the changeovers, he was in serious discomfort.
It was just as obvious that he would not yield.
Given painkillers, the teenager strayed with a pair of blundered forehands to drop serve for 1-3 as Tomic regained control.
Ranked 84th in the world, Kokkinakis was on the brink at 2-5 as he fought the distraction of the injury.
But even then, he refused to surrender, fighting doggedly to post the most significant win of his career.
“I had two match points serving for it, I kind of screwed it up in the end,” Tomic said. “Looking back as well to Munich and Miami, I had a bunch of match points this year. If I had all converted, I would have been close to top 20.
That was a tough match. He was two sets to love down when I was watching and it was 2-1 to Bernard, 0-40, and I thought that if Bernard got one of those points there, it was all over.
“But Thanna has shown that a couple of times this year. He has been down match points and he has been tough to put away. It is a great effort again.”
Tomic held the edge for the first two sets, staving over several crises as Kokkinakis probed for weakness.
The Queenslander saved 12 break points with tremendous resilience as he forged to a two-sets-to-love lead in just over an hour.
Kokkinakis, 19, has quickly built a reputation for bottomless stamina with marathon wins at the Australian Open and in Davis Cup.
And when he finally broke Tomic’s serve late in the third set, it signalled a major shift.
Moving with impressive energy as Tomic began to fade, Kokkinakis made the early running in the fourth set with a double service break before Tomic dug in.
Just as Kokkinakis was poised to level the match, he was rocked by the fall which left him with a bloodied hip and covered in clay.
Pinned to the ropes, Kokkinakis simply would not give in and, as well as Tomic played, he could not dispatch his friend and Davis Cup teammate.
Kokkinakis and Djokovic have never played, but they practised together in Perth three years ago.