MELBOURNE, Australia — For the first time in 42 years, the Australian Open men’s doubles final will be an all-Australian affair with popular duo Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis set to take on Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell in Saturday’s decider.
Both Australian pairs took care of their semifinal assignments in straight sets; Ebden and Purcell accounted for No. 2 seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, 6-3, 7-6(9), while Kyrgios and Kokkinakis got the better of experienced team Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, 7-6(4), 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.
As to be expected, a match featuring Kyrgios was always going to have its moment of madness. When serving up a break in the second set, the 26-year-old fell behind 15-40 and began blowing up at the chair umpire, arguing the sensor on the net cord was too sensitive after a pair of lets were called. Kyrgios also begged the crowd to stop making noise when he began his service motion.
Granollers and Zeballos broke back on the next point, leading to Kyrgios smashing his racket and berating the umpire once more at the change of ends.
With Kyrgios suffering a meltdown, Kokkinakis was able to step up. He struck a number of winners in the next four games to steer the pair to victory and into their first major final.
They score a 7-6(4) 6-4 upset over No.3 seeds Granollers/Zeballos and will face fellow Aussies Matt Ebden/Max Purcell for the title.#AusOpen #AO2022
: @wwos @espn @eurosport @wowowtennis pic.twitter.com/82PgEcuoep
#AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 2022
“It’s all about the crowd, the atmosphere, that gets us going and we worry about the tennis second,” Kokkinakis said after the match. “It brings the best out of us and I don’t know if we would have got this result anywhere else.
“I think both of us bring something different, different energy, different sort of charisma on the court, but we just enjoy it and have fun.”
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, now simply being referred to as the Special Ks, were given a wildcard into the doubles draw and their run to the final has seen them knock off four seeded opponents.
The duo caused a stir on Day 5 when they sent top ranked Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic packing after a fiesty encounter which almost led to a fight breaking out in the locker room.
They then accounted for 15th seeds Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar and sixth seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus before knocking off Granollers and Zeballos for a place in the final of their home Slam. Each time Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have taken to the court, they have enjoyed the overwhelming majority of support.
“I think I’ve played pretty good tennis in the past. I’ve beaten pretty much every player that’s picked up a racket,” Kyrgios said. “[But] it’s not like I’m going out there putting on a clown suit and creating a circus. I think now I’m able to channel a different fanbase.”
Meanwhile, Ebden and Purcell bested the fourth ranked team of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the second round before upsetting Ram and Salisbury.
The women’s singles final and men’s doubles final will be played on Saturday night at Rod Laver Arena. The cheapest adult ticket currently available is selling for AU$325 and Kokkinakis is urging tournament director Craig Tiley to lower prices and let more fans into the stadium.
“Craig might not be happy with this, but if that means dropping prices so we can fill the stands, whatever will get it packed,” he said. “The more the better, the atmosphere would be unreal.”