Teen Thanasi Kokkinakis not there to make up numbers
THANASI Kokkinakis is one of Australia's new breed of hungry tennis teenagers looking to go places in a hurry.
Along with another young gun, Nick Kyrgios, who is pushing for a world ranking in the top 50 after an impressive 2014, Kokkinakis (pictured) is planning to make his mark in 2015.
And what better place for him to start than with a few wins in the Brisbane International, starting Sunday, against a field which includes five of the top 11 players in the world - spearheaded by Swiss ace Roger Federer.
Twelve months ago a nervous Kokkinakis stepped out on centre court against Australian crowd favourite Lleyton Hewitt in the same tournament.
It was new year's eve and his play set off the fireworks early before he succumbed to the country's number one-ranked player.
It was an eye-opening experience for the young South Australian, playing against his hometown idol, as well as an eye-opening experience for tennis fans who witnessed his arrival.
That's why he has scored the first wildcard entry into the men's draw handed out by tournament director Cameron Pearson, who says he was also thrilled to have the talented youngster back again this year.
"I'm very excited to play in Brisbane this year. I qualified for my first ATP tournament there last year and it was a great experience for me playing Lleyton on new year's eve," Kokkinakis said.
"My goal is to win rounds in the draw. I'm not just there to make up the numbers and, even though I'm a wildcard, I feel like my game is developing like I want it to.
"Obviously it's a very strong field but you get the draw you're given and you've just got to give it a crack on the day."
The wild card is a great reward for Kokkinakis who has rocketed up the world rankings from 627 to 150 this year.