Nick Kyrgios Aims for a Men’s Doubles Title at the Australian Open
Nick Kyrgios lost early in the Australian Open singles tournament, but that has not stopped him from grabbing the spotlight, as he so often does at his homeland Grand Slam.
Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, his close friend and fellow Australian, received a wild-card entry into the doubles draw. They have triumphed through the competition using a mix of skill and showmanship that has turned their matches into raucous celebrations, the furthest thing from the often-sedate affairs usually associated with tennis.
They have made their message clear to fans — drink up and make noise. To purists it is sacrilege: an improper, disrespectful display of toxic masculinity and style over substance, like all the between-the-leg half volleys and underhand serves Kyrgios employs. The moves are used both as weapons and to keep himself and the crowd entertained.
Entertainment shouldn’t be a problem on Saturday, given the all-Australian men’s doubles final that features Kyrgios and Kokkinakis against compatriots Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell.
To Kyrgios, the better the show, the better the tennis. And the louder and more uncomfortable the fans can make it for the opponents, the better a chance he has of prevailing.
“Playing for them is more important than tennis success,” Kyrgios, who wears a basketball singlet during his matches, said of his supporters after he and Kokkinakis won their quarterfinal match. During that match, the network televising the Australian Open kept cutting away from Rafael Nadal’s five-set thriller over Denis Shapovalov to cover the Kyrgios-Kokkinakis show.
“The level of entertainment is different,” Kyrgios said. With Kyrgios leading the men of Australian tennis, it always is.
Kyrgios, right, and Kokkinakis during their quarterfinal win at the 2022 Australian Open last week.
Kyrgios during his first-round win at the Open. Kyrgios has said that John Cain Arena is his favorite court to play at, and the tournament schedules many of his matches there.
Young fans surrounded Kyrgios as he signed autographs after practice at the National Tennis Centre in Australia last week. While security tried to move him swiftly through the crowd, he paused to joke and take selfies with as many people as he could, and he signed until he was told to move on.
Kyrgios greeted his girlfriend, Costeen Hatzi, after his semifinal win with Kokkinakis in men’s doubles.
After his semifinals win, Kyrgios met his support team and family for dinner at the restaurant Nobu in Melbourne.
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis defeated the top-seeded partners Nikola Mektić and Mate Pavić of Croatia in a straights upset on Day 5 of the Australian Open.
Fans were overjoyed at Kyrgios’s first-round match. His opponent, the British qualifier Liam Broady, described the atmosphere as “incredible” in a post-match interview but also said he found the experience “absolutely awful’” after being taunted throughout the match as Kyrgios won, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.
Kyrgios, who is known to draw a younger and more vocal crowd to his matches, vented his frustration to the crowd after someone yelled out before his serve. He subsequently lost the point.
Alex Ditomasso, 15, Alex Kourkouridis, 15, and Jimmy Polimenakos, 13, have attended every game Kyrgios has played this year including the semifinals doubles match at the 2022 Australian Open. “Tennis will die without him, it’s no fun without him playing”, said Ditomasso. “Tennis has always been more of an older person’s sport”.
At each of his doubles games with Kokkinakis, the stadiums have filled to capacity with fans willing to wait hours in the intensity of the Australian summer heat for the chance at securing a seat to see the popular pair play. “I am able to channel a different fan base, and that is only positive in my opinion”, said Kyrgios.