Thanasi Kokkinakis, 19, is one of only three teenagers in the world top 100 at No. 80 and has become close mates with Philippoussis, who has become an informal mentor to his fellow Greek-Australian.Kokkinakis believes the influence of fellow Greek-Australian Mark Philippoussis will give him an edge in Adelaide’s World Tennis Challenge, as he prepares for next year’s Australian Open.They are scheduled to play doubles in the event, which will give “the Scud” a close-up view of Kokkinakis as he fine tunes his game ahead of the first Grand Slam event of the year.

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They also share games based on booming serves and big forehands. Philippoussis said Kokkinakis had all the attributes to take the next leap in his career this season and become a second-week player at the majors.

“I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Thanasi and getting to know him and he’s a great kid,” Philippoussis said.“It’s always good to come home and I had a good experience playing that in my first year (in 2014).

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I missed it last year (the WTC) but it’s great preparation,” Kokkinakis said.

Philippoussis dismissed the suggestion Kokkinakis would struggle with the attention directed at him, Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic and Sam Groth as a success-starved Australian tennis public yearns for another great era.

Lleyton Hewitt, who has carried the load of Australian men’s tennis for years, will retire after next year’s Australian Open and then concentrate on Davis Cup captain duties and there’s a sense of expectation of good years to come.But Philippoussis said the expectations should be embraced rather than shunned.

“There’s no pressure. For people to have expectations on you is a beautiful thing, but in the end it’s up to him how he does and how hard he works and how much he wants it,” Kokkinakis said. “But I believe that he can improve a lot even though he’s pretty rounded.“It’s great to have that cathedral-like atmosphere,” tournament director Mark Woodforde said. “We have champions playing, so we have to give them that champion feeling.”

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