Nick Kyrgios makes brash Australian Open statement with Grand Slam title hopes alive

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Nick Kyrgios has claimed that he and Thanasi Kokkinakis are the new favourites to win the men’s doubles title at the Australian Open after backing up their win over the world No 1 pair with a victory over the 15th seeds on Sunday. The Aussie wildcard pair dubbed the ‘Special Ks’ are now through to the quarter-final, after crashing out in the second and first round of the singles draw respectively.

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis booked their place in the Australian Open quarter-final with a 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory over No 15 seeds Gonzalo Escobar and Ariel Behar on Sunday.

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They had already dispatched the world No 1 doubles team of Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in straight sets in the previous round, after which they said the Croatian pair’s coach and fitness trainer “threatened to fight” them in the locker room.

Having reached the last-eight, the singles world No 115 made a bold claim when he branded himself and Kokkinakis the new “favourites” for the title.

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Speaking in his on-court interview, the 26-year-old admitted he thought they could win the title, and was later asked whether winning a Grand Slam doubles title had now become a priority for the pair after making it to the latter stages.

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Nick Kyrgios makes brash Australian Open statement with Grand Slam title hopes alive
© Getty Nick Kyrgios claimed he and Thanasi Kokkinakis were favourites for the men’s doubles title

“No, yeah, usually either I’m either going deep in singles or we just lose a bit of focus in doubles and things like that and don’t win the big points, but I definitely feel a different type of feel, honestly, I feel like favorites out there with doubles,” Kyrgios admitted, making a big claim about their chances.

“The way he’s playing, he’s obviously very confident over the last month he’s had, which is amazing to see, but I don’t know, I feel like we’re locked in we’re definitely, I don’t know, it’s probably the best doubles we’ve played together.

“And I know the crowd’s a bit loose and stuff, but we are locking in in certain moments where in the past it’s been tough to and I think that’s come with experience as well.”

While the former world No 13 lost early in the singles, it was a valiant effort as he drew world No 2 and highest seed in the tournament Daniil Medvedev in a tough second-round draw, and managed to push him to four sets.

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And Kokkinakis recently won his first-ever ATP Tour title in his home of Adelaide in the second of two ATP 250 events held there in the lead-up to the Aussie Open, having made the final of the first edition a week earlier where he lost to Gael Monfils.

The world No 105, who has spent a large majority of his career sidelined by injuries, understandably ran out of steam at the Australian Open but is back to his winning ways in the doubles alongside his good friend and compatriot.

The ‘Special Ks’ had also previously said that their time on court was “90 per cent banter and 10 per cent tactics” but admitted that had changed now they were in the quarter-final, with a Grand Slam title three wins away.

Kyrgios explained: “We have changed it for sure. That’s what I mean, we’re just locked in. We’re talking about, we’re, I know that I’m definitely in a different mindset, I don’t know what’s happened, I have never been –“

Nick Kyrgios makes brash Australian Open statement with Grand Slam title hopes alive
© Getty Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis are through to the Australian Open quarter-finals

“The man’s getting older, he’s maturing,” Kokkinakis interjected.

The six-time tour title winner added: “I am, I am, I am. F*** me dead. But yeah I don’t know.

“I feel different. Like I feel as if in the past when I played doubles I feel like I haven’t made enough, I haven’t done enough on court and now I’m making more returns than I used to, I’m trying to I guess lead by example in a way.”

And the ever-outspoken Aussie also admitted he thought he and Kokkinakis were responsible for bringing up the game, adding: “We are bringing (laughing) 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.”

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