Thanasi Kokkinakis pulls out of his Barletta Challenger round-of-16 match

Thanasi Kokkinakis pulls out of his Barletta Challenger round-of-16 match

Australian rising star Thanasi Kokkinakis' return to the court didn't last long as the Australian has pulled out of the Barletta Challenger. Former world No. 69 Kokkinakis is having yet another injury-plagued season as a shoulder injury forced him to miss three months of the 2019 season.

The 23-year-old opened his 2019 campaign in Brisbane, where he made it past the qualifying event before losing to French star in the first round. Kokkinakis then also successfully overcame the Australian Open qualifying event but then a shoulder injury forced him to retire his first round match to Japanese Taro Daniel.

Kokkinakis, now ranked at No. 186 in the world, returned to competitive action at this week's Barletta Challenger. The 10th-seeded Australian had a first round bye before he claimed a 6-4 4-6 6-4 win over unranked Giulio Zeppieri.

Kokkinakis broke 17-year-old Zeppieri in the seventh game of the first set and then managed to hold to his serve to claim the opener. However, Zeppieri kept his focus as forced a decider after breaking Kokkinakis in the 10th game of the second set while he was serving to stay in the set.

The 23-year-old saved two consecutive break points in the first game of the third set before he broke Zeppieri in the following game. The Australian then routinely held on to his serve for the rest of the set to seal the win. Kokkinakis was scheduled to meet 175th-ranked Italian Gianluca Mager in the Barletta round-of-16.