Star-struck Australian tennis star Thanasi Kokkinakis has finished an emotional Queen’s Club debut with a tennis lesson.
But it wasn’t the clinical world No.13 Gilles Simon who had grabbed Kokkinakis’ attention – it was some high-profile faces in the crowd.
Kokkinakis took to Twitter immediately after the 6-4 6-2 loss to apologise for his poor performance, and some interesting revelations afterwards gave an insight into why he might have been off his game – ex-Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson and One Direction singer Liam Payne were sitting courtside.
“I saw that and got a bit distracted actually,” he joked when asked about Clarkson.
“Oh, there he is from Top Gear. Again, a disappointing performance in front of him.
“What can you do sometimes?
“Was the guy from One Direction here too?
“I’ve just got to do better than that really.
“I got distracted a little bit, but I looked over when I was down a set and double break.
“At least I saw some important faces in the crowd!”
The 19-year-old, who defeated Frenchman Jeremy Chardy after flying back home to Adelaide to be with his family and ailing grandmother over the weekend, came out firing on centre court and won the opening nine points of the match, before going on to lose in straight sets.
He dedicated the Chardy victory to his grandmother but said there would not be another chance to head home in the near future.
“I doubt I will go back again,” he said.
“She’s still going for now. She’s struggling, though.
“It’s a bit of a waiting game, really, which is disappointing.
“You feel like you can’t really do anything. That’s what it is.
“She’d prefer me to go out and play and do what I do. Happy I got the win for her yesterday but today wasn’t to be.”
Kokkinakis had on Tuesday admitted he was feeling fatigued following the three-set victory over Chardy.
The effects of a 33,000km round trip and spending nearly 48 hours on planes over three days also appeared to take its toll on the youngster.
“I just wasn’t feeling confident with my shots. I felt bad for everyone watching, really,” Kokkinakis said.
“It was a bit disappointing.
“I felt like it was one of my poorest performances in a while.”
Simon advances to face Canadian third seed Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, Casey Dellacqua went down to Serbian 15th seed Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (13-11) 6-3 at the Birmingham Classic, leaving no Australians remaining in WTA or ATP tournaments this week.