By Courtney Walsh
The “Special K’s” circus rolled on in the Australian Open doubles on Sunday, and according to ring-leader Nick Kyrgios and fellow showman Thanasi Kokkinakis, tennis should take note.
The Australians filled a Melbourne Park stadium court with 5,000 fans for their second-round clash as higher-profile singles matches unfolded all around them.
The fans’ chanting of “Siu”, which had irritated Daniil Medvedev and Andy Murray earlier in the tournament, rang from the terraces throughout their 6-4 4-6 6-4 win over Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar.
With the crowd firmly behind the home duo, however, it was rendered backing music amid roars of approval.
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, nicknamed the “Special Ks” as juniors, upset the top doubles pair on Friday, and later said a member of their opponents’ entourage threatened them in the players’ gym at Melbourne Park.
Asked if they felt they had added a new dimension to doubles, Kyrgios responded initially with a hint of sarcasm.
“We are bringing the game to new levels. It is not just on the doubles court,” he told reporters.
“I saw the TV ratings were up 45 percent, mate. Let’s be honest. We need this for the sport.”
The 26-year-old expanded by saying tennis had done a poor job of promoting the sport by “really only marketing three players for the last decade”.
Those players are Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, all of whom Kyrgios has beaten.
“Tennis has really struggled to embrace different personalities. People go about it differently,” he added.
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, who met in the 2013 Australian Open boys singles final in 2013, believe they can win the doubles crown as a partnership.
But not everyone has been thrilled by their success at the tournament.
After defeating Olympic champions Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic in the first round, a fitness trainer for the former expressed his anger.
“It was Pavic’s fitness trainer who came up and he smashed a foam roller against a pole and I thought he was joking,” Kokkinakis said.
“They said we were showboating. I think, at the end of the day, they were a bit salty that they lost. It was a little aggressive on his part.”