The towering Adelaide slugger, who’d rocketed more than 500 places up the world rankings in his first two years on the tour, had fallen off the radar last year courtesy of serious shoulder and pectoral tears. Sitting about waiting for these to heal didn’t suit his temperament.
“I was pissed off with how my upper body was feeling so I started running a lot,” says Kokkinakis after a morning workout with trainer Corey Bocking. The mileage in his legs, he figured, would serve him well when he returned to the court.
“But I was running a lot more than I should have been – like 12 kays a day for four days straight on a bunch of different surfaces,” he says. “It wasn’t great for my hips, but I didn’t realise that at the time because I was more angry than anything.”
Sure enough, the excessive pounding had consequences: Kokkinakis developed osteitis pubis – pain in the groin and pelvis caused by inflammation. While he plans to reassert himself on the tour this year – starting at the Australian Open from January 15 – he’ll begin the climb back while managing the lingering effects of his youthful intemperance.
No matter, he says. The lessons of last year have reinforced that a career is a marathon and not a sprint. You have to pace yourself. You make decisions with an eye on the long term, rather than risk burnout by ignoring blinking lights.
For the full story, pick up a copy of the February issue of Men's Health Australia, in-store 8th Jan.