Australian Open: Kyrgios boasts of greatest ever atmosphere as Special Ks get Laver approval

By Sports Desk January 29, 2022

Nick Kyrgios declared he and Thanasi Kokkinakis created "the best atmosphere this tournament's ever seen" as they powered to Australian Open doubles final glory.

But within minutes of the duo sealing their 7-5 6-4 win over fellow Australians Max Purcell and Matt Ebden, Purcell questioned whether the raucous crowds might in fact be a turn-off for tennis fans around the world.

After a victory that Kyrgios ranked as the highlight of his career and Kokkinakis labelled "f****** nuts", the wildcard pair were singing their own praises almost as loudly as the Rod Laver Arena had been roaring them on to victory.

Kyrgios, who will never need to hire a hype man, led the cheerleading, before announcing he would not be playing the French Open and ruling out a doubles reunion with Kokkinakis at Wimbledon. They could pair up again at the US Open, however, and potentially for the ATP Finals at the end of the year.

"The dedication I showed all week and from my team, I'm super proud of myself," Kyrgios said. "I could have not really cared too much after I lost [in singles] to [Daniil] Medvedev, but doing it with 'Kokk' is insane and this ranks one for me.

"I feel like a completely different person. I'm just happy. I've gone about it the right way.

"This is a memory we're never going to forget. We're going to grow old and always remember the time we rolled off the couch and won the Aus Open, honestly. It's crazy. I've won some titles in singles, but this one ranks top for some reason."

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis became the first Australian pair to carry off this title since Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge in 1997.

The great Laver himself endorsed the new champions, sending a message of congratulations on Twitter, suggesting their appeal goes far beyond the young generation.

"I would say we've created probably the best atmosphere this tournament's ever seen, to be brutally honest with you," Kyrgios said.

He claimed that verdict had the support of Robert Barty, the father of women's singles champion Ash Barty.

"Ash's father came to us and said the crowd was the best he's ever seen," said 26-year-old Kyrgios. "Obviously Ash is a hell of a player, but I think the ratings speak for themselves.

"People watch my matches. Everywhere I play around the world, the stadiums are full for that reason. There's a reason why the ratings are the way they are and people are glued to the TV when we play. It speaks for itself really."

Kokkinakis, 25, won a singles title in Adelaide ahead of the Australian Open, and is fighting back from injuries that have stifled his progress in the game.

"Nick, I love you brother," Kokkinakis said. "I can honestly say we did not expect to even come close to this.

"It's been a rough couple of years for me personally, but what a month we've had. Coming into the Aussie Open I was already happy and this is a crazy cherry on top.

"Adelaide was number one for me, but this has trumped it. To be a grand slam champion with my boy. We've known each other since we were eight or nine years old and have done some serious things together, had some serious experiences, but this is incredible, we didn't expect this at all."

The crowds at Melbourne Park for Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have been noisy to the point of rowdy at times, with Kyrgios being described as "an absolute k***" by Michael Venus after the New Zealander and German Tim Putz lost to the Special Ks in the quarter-finals. Venus felt the atmosphere was like "a circus" and accused the Australians of stoking it beyond the point of acceptability.

Beaten finalist Purcell said he and Ebden were given a relatively easy ride, and thanked the Australian public for coming out to show their support.

But after an exuberant spectator was asked to leave the stadium late in the final, Purcell also said: "They seem like the naughtiest crowd I've ever played in front of. Even Thanasi and Nick were getting a little angry out there.

"There's a line where you don't want to cross. You don't want people to be thrown out, so if people are doing that they're obviously not doing the right thing and respecting the players.

"I think it was great for ticket sales here, but I'm not sure how it was taken overseas. If you were watching some of Nick and Thanasi's matches earlier in the week, and you were overseas, maybe you get turned off tennis a little bit."

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