Alex Bolt
Alex Bolt, here playing on No.1 Court three years ago, has found another big Wimbledon stage. Image by EPA PHOTO
  • tennis

Bolt can get Aussies off to sensational Wimbledon flyer

Ian Chadband July 1, 2024

Alex Bolt has revealed how he recently pondered his career could be over with injury as he now aims to get Australia’s Wimbledon challenge off to a sensational flyer.

The tale of the resurgent grass-court specialist from Murray Bridge has brought a big smile to the big Aussie contingent at SW19 in the build-up to the championships.

Now his fellow South Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, for one, is backing his great pal ‘Bolty’, the world No.234, to knock out three-time grand slam finalist Casper Ruud on Monday when the 31-year-old qualifier continues his outlandish SW19 adventure. 

 Thanasi Kokkinakis thinks his South Australian buddy can pull off a big Wimbledon shock. Image by AP PHOTO 

Bolt will take to No.3 Court exactly one week since he had to abandon a late-morning snack last Monday and was given 10 minutes notice at 10.50am to get on court at Roehampton for a qualifying match as an eleventh-hour replacement following a late withdrawal at Roehampton 

Despite needing to ask the umpire who he was actually playing in his opener, he went on to win, then negotiated two further rounds, including a fightback from match-point down in his final qualifier, to make it to the main draw.

He was quite overcome with emotion, particularly after injury setbacks that he feared might end his career.

“I’ve definitely had my doubts the last couple of years after some pretty big injuries that have kind of derailed me,” said Bolt, who needed a second bout of surgery to his elbow and also lost four months last year through a pelvic injury.

“Absolutely, after the elbow surgery, there were definitely thoughts through my mind that if I had another extended time off with injury, that it could be it because it took a toll on me not just physically but mentally.”

But the southpaw is back firing, and ready for a match so huge that the guaranteed £60,000 ($A114,000) payday has enabled him to fly mum Cathy and his brother Nathan over to Wimbledon to watch. “They’ve both never left Australia before so it’s going to be pretty special having them over here,” said Bolt.

“I’m super pumped for him. I remember playing some under-12s country events with him at Murray Bridge and it’s pretty funny how that learning on that grass translates to the professional stages,” said Adelaide’s Kokkinakis. 

“Casper is a hell of a player but I think Bolty’s got a good chance, Casper hasn’t played much on the grass, and it’s a tricky little matchup. Who knows? But I back Bolty to the hills. There’s no-one more deserving.”

Bolt leads the first four Australian men amid a battalion of 11, the biggest number for nine years, into action on day one and all are in top form on the grass.

Jordan Thompson, recovered from his back trouble after reaching the Queen’s Club semis, doesn’t have a great record at Wimbledon but, ready to face Russian tournament debutant Pavel Kotov, says: “Hopefully I can go better. Trying to make the second week is a goal.”

Fresh from their successful week in Eastbourne, finalist Max Purcell, who meets Finn Otto Virtanen, and semi-finalist Aleksandar Vukic, who’s ready to tackle Mallorca finalist Sebastian Ofner, are high on confidence. 

Australia’s No.1 Daria Saville will launch the women’s three-pronged bid with a tough outing against US up-and-comer Peyton Stearns.


Men’s singles

Aleksandar Vukic v Sebastian Ofner (AUT)

Max Purcell v Otto Virtanen (FIN)

Jordan Thompson v Pavel Kotov (RUS)

Alex Bolt v 8-Casper Ruud (NOR)

Women’s singles

Daria Saville v Peyton Stearns (USA)