Kyrgios and Kokkinakis secure doubles title to cap remarkable Australian Open campaign
Nick Kyrgios live streamed his entrance and exited with an Instagram post. The latter was a video of himself and Thanasi Kokkinakis strolling back down the tunnel with their trophy in hand and a “WINNNNERS BABYYYYY!!!!!!!” caption. Rod Laver Arena has never seen winners like these before.
Tennis in general would be hard-pressed to find a pair. Last week the Special Ks were wildcards with no expectations about results. On Saturday they became the first all-Australian partnership to win at Melbourne Park since the Woodies – Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge – in 1997.
The childhood friends’ remarkable journey ended in another entertaining 7-5, 6-4 victory, this time at the expense of compatriots Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell.
Related: Kokkinakis & Kyrgios beat Ebden & Purcell to win Australian Open men’s doubles final – live!
“I have won some big titles around the world, played some amazing matches. This one ranks No 1 for me,” Kyrgios said. “When I say I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else, I mean it. It was just special. The whole week, winning each round, I didn’t take it for granted. I was soaking it in. Not one time did it cross my mind that we were going to win the title.”
The match, which followed hot on the heels of Ash Barty’s women’s singles title win, began with the usual warm-up antics. Kyrgios, ever the showman, dribbled a tennis ball and squirted a water bottle between an official’s legs.
Once it started, though, the duo were almost uncharacteristically serious, aware of the significance of their performance, which comes nine years after Kyrgios and Kokkinakis claimed the junior Wimbledon doubles title together.
It is especially meaningful for Kokkinakis, who has been plagued for several years plagued by serious injuries and illness but won his maiden ATP singles title in Adelaide earlier this month. One month ago the 25-year-old thought he had “no chance” of being
“I said to my team after, ‘whatever happens, if I snap my knee tomorrow – this was after Adelaide – I’m happy,” Kokkinakis said. “I’ve won a title. Coming from kind of where I felt was the lowest low to come and win a title in my hometown was incredible. It’s just a big weight off my shoulders.
“It’s a testament to my team and everyone that stuck by me through a lot of hard times. Hopefully this is a start, but as I said, if this is as good as it gets for me, I’m happy.”
The contest was not without a dose of crowd controversy, with Kyrgios asking for a fan to be ejected as Ebden and Purcell were serving to stay in the match. On the whole, though, the atmosphere was less wild than in the matches that led them to this point.
“I would say that we’ve created probably the best atmosphere this tournament has ever seen, to be brutally honest with you,” Kyrgios said. “Ash’s [Barty] father came to us and said the crowd was the best he’s ever seen.
“Obviously Ash is a hell of a player but I think the ratings speak for themselves. People watch my matches, everywhere I play around the world the stadiums are full for that reason.”
Kokkinakis described Barty as “an incredible player, incredible role model” and said she thoroughly deserved her win, which he and Kyrgios both watched.
Whether he and Kyrgios will play again as a partnership, though, remains up in the air.
“I’m not playing the French [Open], and I’m not playing Wimby [Wimbledon] doubles,” Kyrgios said. “Maybe just US [Open] and then [ATP] Finals.”
Kokkinakis laughed. “There you go,” he said. “I’ll just try and find someone else. That’s fine. Didn’t even enjoy it, anyway. [Kyrgios] just wants to rock up for the ATP Finals end of the year, I reckon. That’s all right.”