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Kyrgios, Kokkinakis eye Open doubles glory

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Nick Kyrgios has his eyes firmly on Australian Open doubles glory alongside Thanasi Kokkinakis as the ‘Special Ks’ deliver the personality and fun he believes tennis desperately needs.

The ‘Special Ks’ reached the quarter-finals with a 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory over 15th seeds Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar in front of a full house at Kia Arena on Sunday, having already upset top-ranked Croatian duo Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the second round.

Immediately after the match, Kyrgios quipped “we’re winning it” and he doubled down in the pair’s press conference.

“This is actually our best run in a grand slam ever. So I think we’ve come with age and matured a little bit, I know I have definitely,” he said.

“So I’m just excited, I’m going to do everything I can tonight, get a good rest, recover, train. Listen to me.

“I’ll be ready to go. I definitely think we’ve got a good shot at winning this.”

Their golden run could have further consequences, with the Kyrgios-Kokkinakis combination shaping as a potential winner for Australia’s Davis Cup qualifier against Hungary in Sydney in early March.

The Australians’ form and on-court showmanship have reignited interest in the men’s doubles tournament at Melbourne Park, with patriotic and often boisterous crowds flocking to their matches.

“We are bringing the game to new levels. Not just on the doubles court. I saw the TV ratings up like 45 per cent, mate, let’s just get this clear,” Kyrgios said.

“But let’s just be honest. People come to see (Kokkinakis) play because he’s exciting. We need it for the sport.”

The enigmatic Kyrgios urged tennis to embrace different personalities or it would be “in trouble”.

“Tennis has done a really poor job with accepting personalities in the past,” he said.

“They have really only marketed three players for the last decade and now it’s caught up with them, so hence they have tried to push some of the Next Gen guys.

“Some of them are really exciting, I really like the two young Canadians, I think they can really do some special things in the sport.

“But tennis has really struggled to embrace different personalities, like when people go about it differently. 

“Like something about Thanasi – when I watch him play singles it glues me to the TV, whether he’s losing or whether he’s winning, it’s just the way he goes about it.

“Tennis needs to embrace that more.”

The duo next play No.6 seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus – a match they’ll hope comes at Kia Arena, with Kokkinakis delighting in the “party atmosphere”.

“We wouldn’t want it any other way. A great day for it, weekend, people get smashed in the tents and then they come and support us. That’s why we love playing Australian Open,” Kokkinakis said.

“I don’t know if we can put a number on it (the crowd’s impact), but we definitely would much rather have it that way for sure.

“That’s what is so different: it feels like a Davis Cup atmosphere every time we play.

“We feel like we got more people watching sometimes than guys who are going deep in singles.”

AAP

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