Why Novak chose Kokkinakis showdown in Adelaide

Novak Djokovic has opened up about why he decided to return to Adelaide to prepare for the Australian Open ahead of his first hit this week.

Djokovic won the Adelaide International as a 19-year-old in 2007 for his third ATP Tour title and is part of a star-studded men’s draw at this year’s tournament.

“I chose Adelaide because I wanted to get a tournament before the Australian Open,” Djokovic told reporters this week. “I wanted a normal 250 action.

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“Judging by the list of players playing in the 250 event, it’s not really a 250 event. It’s maybe a 500 event or maybe a 1000 event. It’s got some of the best players in the world, both on the men’s and women’s sides.”

“The field is super strong. You have Medvedev, Felix, Rublev. You have really, really top guys. Also, in the opening rounds, you can play Thanasi Kokkinakis, who is the defending champion, right?”

For his part, Kokkinakis said he has a narrow lead before defending his title in his hometown.

“There’s pressure because everyone’s saying, ‘Defending champion, can he do it again?’. I don’t think they realize how tough it is. This is my best tournament ever,” he told The Age.

“It’s happened in I don’t even know how many years I’ve been playing tennis, so it’s not about, ‘Yeah, I’ll defend it, no worries.’

“Djokovic plays [and he’s the] the best ever or one of the best ever. It’s a crazy field but I always love the support when I come here.”

In the women’s draw, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu rallied to beat Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 0-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1 in a first-round clash between the Grand Slam champions on Sunday.

2019 US Open champion Andreescu trailed 0-6, 2-5 before staging a remarkable comeback to beat two-time major headliner Muguruza in two hours and 12 minutes. Andreescu improved her head-to-head record against former top-ranked Muguruza to 3-0.

“I really had to change my game plan in the second set,” Andreescu said. “I told myself I’m going to go for it (and) whatever happens, happens.

“I’m putting more returns on the court, more serves on the court. I’m so glad I pulled it off. I have no idea how.”

Muguruza looked in excellent form in the first set, hitting eight match points to two and converting three of five break points without facing a break herself.

Andreescu started the second set more strongly, but Muguruza nailed a forehand winner for a 4-2 lead and served for a 5-2 lead. Muguruza was serving for the match at 5-3, but Andreescu averted the danger with a backhand down the line to take a crucial 4-2 lead in the tiebreak before closing out the set with an ace.

Andreescu served well, then broke for 3-1 in the final set. She will now play either No. 4 seed Veronika Kudermet or Amanda Anisim in the second round.

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