MELBOURNE (Reuters) – The “Special Ks” show will have one final episode at the Australian Open after Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis progressed to the men’s doubles final against compatriots Max Purcell and Matt Ebden.
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, nicknamed the “Special Ks” as juniors, defeated third-seeded pair of Spaniard Marcel Granollers and Argentine Horacio Zeballos 7-6(4) 6-4 in front of a capacity crowd at the Rod Laver Arena.
“It sounds stupid, but winning has been our second priority every time,” Kokkinakis told reporters. “We hope to have fun, enjoy ourselves, enjoy our time on court. Hopefully they (crowd) feel like they’ve paid good money to watch us.”
Playing at the same time over at Margaret Court Arena, Ebden and Purcell defeated the second-seeded pair of American Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury of Britain 6-3 7-6(9) with far fewer people in the stands.
The pairing of Kyrgios and Kokkinakis entered the year’s first major as wildcards and went on to defeat top seeds Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic of Croatia in the second round.
Australian fans have flocked to Melbourne Park to support the duo and provide a raucous atmosphere at their matches, bringing the doubles more attention than normal at Melbourne Park.
As is often the case in matches involving Kyrgios, the mercurial Australian lost his cool with the umpire, this time over a net cord sensor. He then rebuked a fan for making a noise while he was in the serving motion.
Kyrgios was broken in that game and smashed his racquet on court. He showed the middle finger to the fan and then blew up at chair umpire James Keothavong for what he said was a failure to control the crowd.
“I try to be a steady head out there for him,” said Kokkinakis. “Also don’t want to take away that energy and that fire because I think that’s what makes Nick, Nick.”
Kyrgios said his goal was to bring new fans to tennis.
“If they flick on a match and they have Thanasi and I playing in an entertaining doubles match, they know nothing about tennis, if they watch that match just then, they probably would tune in next time,” he said.
“That’s what I’m about. That’s what I want to bring. I think that’s how the sport is going to survive.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Peter Rutherford)