Nick Kyrgios defended his behavior on the pitch after he and Thanasi Kokkinakis booked their spot in the men’s doubles final at the Australian Open.
Rod Laver was packed again and there could not have been a bigger cheer than that which greeted Kyrgios and Kokkinakis as they walked out to take on third-placed Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.
After a 7-6(4) 6-4 win, Kyrgios said: “I’ve played a lot of singles matches around the world in an amazing atmosphere but this week with Thanasi nothing beats that, it’s crazy.”
In the final they meet another Australian pair, Matt Ebden and Max Purcell, who defeated Brit Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram 6-3, 7-6 (9) in Margaret Court Arena.
Kyrgios immediately whipped up the crowd and the noise only grew as the home duo managed the tiebreak in the first set. Kyrgios missed a set point as he attempted a shot through the legs but two big returns from the 26-year-old ultimately proved the difference.
The wild cards looked as they broke in the second game of the second set, but Kyrgios lost serve 4-2, smashing his racquet in anger and growing frustrated as fans chanted before his serve.
It seemed like the game had been turned but Kyrgios and Kokkinakis saved their best second leg at the right moment.
As a final praise from Kokkinakis slammed in, the duo tossed their racquets high in the air before jumping into each other’s arms.
Unlike previous opponents, Granollers and Zeballos had no complaints about the crowds or Kyrgios’ antics, with Rod Laver’s larger environment making it less of a bear pit.
Kyrgios was furiously confronted by fitness coach Mate Pavic after her third-round win over the top seeds, while New Zealander Michael Venus called Kyrgios “an absolute cracker” after the quarter-finals.
“I think tennis is a sport that has never been talked about that much at the moment,” said Kyrgios. “We need more attention, we need more spectators. My goal is to only get new fans who may not be following tennis to watch tennis.
“If you tune in to a match and Thanasi and I are in a fun doubles match, they don’t know anything about tennis, if they’re watching that match right now they’d probably tune in next time.” That’s what I’m about. I want to bring that with me. I think that’s how the sport will survive.
“As for Michael Venus, I’m not going to destroy him in this media conference room right now. But Zeballos and Granollers are single players. They’ve had great careers. I respect her a lot more than Michael Venus.
“I think the balance was there today. The quality of the tennis was amazing. I think the festival atmosphere was still there. I think they accepted it. They knew it was an incredible atmosphere. Zeballos took a selfie with us before we left. This is how you embrace an atmosphere
“You don’t lose a game and then get mad about it afterwards. It is ridiculous. It’s not like I go out there and put on a clown suit and create a circus. I played too, won titles, won big titles, I played in a traditional way. I think now I’m able to channel a different fandom.
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