Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios on Saturday became the first wild cards in the Open Era to win the men’s doubles title at the Australian Open. To say they were thrilled would be an understatement.
“I have won some big titles around the world, played some amazing matches. This one ranks [No.] 1 for me,” Kyrgios said. “When I say I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else, I mean it. It was just special. The whole week, winning each round, I didn’t take it for granted. I was soaking it in.”
Kokkinakis, who crafted one of the early stories of the season when he triumphed in Adelaide for his first ATP Tour title, agreed with his longtime friend.
“Comparing to what I have gone through in the years I have had the past few years, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Adelaide was No. 1 for me, but this has trumped it,” Kokkinakis said. “To be a Grand Slam champion with my boy — we have known each other since we were eight, nine years old, done some serious things together, have had some serious experiences — but this is incredible. We didn’t expect this at all.”
It has been an especially meaningful Australian summer for Kokkinakis. For years, the 25-year-old has struggled with injuries, which have largely kept him off the biggest stages in tennis.
“I knew what I was capable of, but you always have doubts and you always think to yourself, ‘What if it doesn’t happen? What if my career doesn’t plan out the way I want it to, or what if I never win a title or get a chance like that?’” Kokkinakis said. “To have the summer I’ve had, I was stoked with making a semi-final in Adelaide, just coming from not much in a Tour event and then to win, I was, like, ‘Can’t get any better than this.’ Then to win a Grand Slam after that, this month has been unbelievable for me.”
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Kokkinakis and Kyrgios defeated four seeded teams en route to the title, including top seeds Nikola Mektic/Mate Pavic and third seeds Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos. The Aussies beat countrymen Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell in the final. They served big and blasted away from the baseline to lift the trophy.
“I think if doubles players try and play how we play, it’s not gonna work, and if we try and play how doubles specialists play, it’s not going to work,” Kokkinakis said. “It’s just how we’ve been brought up, and what we think gives us the best chance to succeed. There’s heaps of ways to play doubles but for us pretty much playing singles in a half court works.”
Kyrgios admitted to feeling “like a completely different person” over the course of the fortnight, even waking up at 7:30 a.m. and arriving at the venue for a hit at 8:30 a.m. That paid off for the Australian duo. He said, “This is a memory that we are never going to forget.”