LAS VEGAS, October 29, 2018 (by Steve Pratt)
Never facing a break point the entire match, big serving Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis recorded 13 aces on his way to winning the Las Vegas Tennis Open on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Blaz Rola at the Fertitta Tennis Complex at UNLV.
The 22-year-old Kokkinakis earned two important service breaks of his own – one late in the first set and the second to open the final set – to capture the fourth annual LVTO, an ATP $50,000 Men’s Challenger.
“I’m just trying to win matches and stay healthy,” said Kokkinakis, who is hoping for a return to the top 100 in the world having previously reached a career-high of No. 69 as a teenager in 2015. “It sounds simple but that’s what has to happen. When I’m good I’m good, but when I’m bad I’m just average so I have to find that consistency.”
After the match, Kokkinakis gave an assist to famed former Andre Agassi trainer Gil Reyes as he arrived into Las Vegas a week early to train. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out because he’s got his own methods,” Kokkinakis said. “But he’s really positive and a really good guy. I worked with him the week before and I won so obviously it helped.”
Asked by on-court announcer Kevin Janison after the match if he was tired of people asking him about his win over Roger Federer in Miami in March, Kokkinakis told the crowd yes, he was. Janison followed up by asking how his life changed after beating the legend. “Not at all,” Kokkinakis said. “It was a stepping stone, and I just proved to myself that I can play at that level. This week and these wins here are just as important.”
Kokkinakis was visibly upset with himself at times during the match. “I thought Blaz was the better player in the first set, and I just happened to get the lucky break and was able to take it,” said Kokkinakis, who served a tournament-high 48 aces in his five matches without dropping a set. “I was able to serve well and play to my strengths this week.”
Rola will focus his attention to the final three ATP Challengers on college campuses. “I’m just happy with the week and I still have three weeks of tournaments left in the States so we’re far from being over for the year,” said Rola, who plans to play ATP Challenger events at Charlottesville, Va., Knoxville, Tenn., and Champaign, Ill. “We stayed calm this week and stayed in our rooms and didn’t go out, but it’s Sunday and we have a later flight so we’ll see.”
In the doubles final, the top-seeded team of Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Roberto Maytin of Venezuela beat the No. 4 American team of Robert Galloway and Nathan Pasha, 6-3, 6-3. Galloway played his college tennis at Wofford College in South Carolina, and Pasha for the University of Georgia.
Men’s Singles – Final
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d Blaz Rola (SLO), 6-4, 6-4
Men’s Doubles – Final
 Marcelo Arevalo (ESA) / Roberto Maytin (VEN) def.  Robert Galloway (USA) / Nathan Pasha (USA), 6-3, 6-3