Kokkinakis’ bid for Aussie Open qualifying
Thanasi Kokkinakis' route back to the Australian Open has been made clear after Monday's qualifying draw at Melbourne Park.
The 22-year-old, one of just eight men to defeat Roger Federer in 2018, was surprisingly overlooked by Tennis Australia for a wildcard into his home major.
He will face Egyptian Mohamed Safwat in the first round of qualifying, a 28-year-old who has never been ranked inside the world's top 160 or won a grand slam match.
The pair have never met.
After battling injuries, most notably shoulder issues, Kokkinakis was granted a wildcard into last year's Australian Open, but lost a four-set match to emerging Russian Daniil Medvedev.
The South Australian hasn't returned to the main draw of a major since, falling in qualifying for the 2018 French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
After winning two second-tier Challenger events in the United States to bump his world ranking to 145, Kokkinakis has not won a match at a major since the 2015 French Open.
Players need to win three qualifying matches to reach the main draw in Melbourne.
Kokkinakis' likely last-up opponent is Canada's Peter Polansky, whom he defeated in straight sets at the Brisbane International.
Qualifying for the first grand slam of the year begins on Tuesday.
There are 22 Australians looking to join their higher-ranked compatriots, led by top hope Ashleigh Barty, in the main draw.
West Australian aspirant Astra Sharma lucked out when she was pitted against top seed and former world No.2 Vera Zvonareva – an Australian Open semi-finalist in 2009 and 2011.
Zvonareva, having reached the 2010 US Open and Wimbledon finals, has returned to the tour after becoming a mother in 2016 for the first time.
The 34-year-old is ranked world No.95 and represents a stiff challenge.
Sharma, 23, is bidding to play in her first grand slam, having missed out last month on securing direct entry when she lost the wildcard playoff final to Kimberly Birrell.
At least one local is assured of making it through to the second phase with Maddison Inglis and Naiktha Bains drawn against each other in the opening round.