One of the stories of the 2022 season was Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios’ dream run to the Australian Open doubles title. The ‘Special Ks’ immediately became fan favourites and they used the crowd to their advantage to secure the trophy at their home Grand Slam.
It was such a special moment, their run earned significant airtime in Netflix’s new tennis series Break Point. According to Kokkinakis, they did not enter the tournament expecting to do what they did.
“One, the intention wasn’t going to the event to try to win the tournament. That’s for sure. It’s not something we even really spoke about ever until maybe the quarter-finals or so,” Kokkinakis told ATPTour.com. “It was just something that we did together to have fun and seeing how much the crowd got into it and how much they wanted us to succeed kind of propelled us on.
Most doubles teams train together on off days. That helps build team chemistry on the court and also is convenient, since players need a practice partner.
“The other funny thing about that was we weren’t really practising with each other on the off days after we won. He would go and hit in the morning at about 9 or 10 a.m. and to be honest I had a little bit of a night out, nothing crazy, after every win because it was doubles, so I wanted to relax myself,” Kokkinakis said. “I came out and hit around 4 or 5 p.m. every day, so I just hit with my coach and Nick had a hitting partner and hit in the morning.”
While both men were eliminated from the singles draw by the second round, the buzz around them only picked up as they powered their way through the doubles field. The raucous crowds were reminiscent of fans at a football match cheering on their home side.
“We almost got used to it because we saw the atmosphere and the traction it got and how crazy everyone was going. It almost became normal,” Kokkinakis said. “It still gives you goosebumps every time, but it was kind of what we were expecting when we were walking out on court. It was a circus every time and it was just going nuts, so we loved it.”
Although the Australians did not enter the tournament thinking they were due for a title run, impressive wins began to add up, including in the second round against doubles forces Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.
“I definitely felt sort of a mood change a little bit, especially from Nick as well, from the semi-finals, maybe quarter-finals onwards a little bit. It was kind of a, ‘Hang on, shit, we can actually really win this thing’ as supposed to we’re just lapping it up and enjoying it,” Kokkinakis said. “Everyone kept asking me after our first round, ‘Are you guys going to win it? Are you guys going to win?’ I was like ‘Nah, we’ll probably lose to a good doubles team the next time. They’ll probably just put us away.’
“But we spoke to ourselves and we were like, ‘We’ve done an amazing job just to get here.’ No one expected us to do that. But inside you’re thinking, ‘Shit we better not lose this. We’re playing two Aussies, the crowd’s going to go for us. We’re expected to win.’ And we definitely felt that pressure, so to perform under those circumstances was massive.”
The Kyrgios-focussed Break Point episode also showed the off-court sides of the Australians, as they enjoy each other’s company and just relax like any other friends.
“It’s good. I think the tennis tour, you get a lot of different cats. A lot of guys that are so intense, so solely focussed on just getting better every day, which I completely understand and that’s probably what you should do,” Kokkinakis said. “But I think me and Nick are a bit more the other way where we’re kind of normal people to an extent. We have a bit more of a social life and we kind of just try and relax and go out a little bit and just try and put on for the fans and have some fun there. I think that’s sort of the different aspect of it for sure.”