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Men's doubles: Kokkinakis, Kyrgios finish wild ride with title

  • Alex Sharp

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios, dubbed 'Special K', put on a special show to land the Australian Open 2022 men's doubles title, edging compatriots Matt Ebden and Max Purcell 7-5 6-3 on Saturday night at Rod Laver Arena. 

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The dazzling duo became the first all-Australian team to lift the trophy since the 'Woodies' of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde in 1997. 

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios, normally specialising in singles play, dismissed four seeded pairings to reach the final before the long-standing friends clinched a memorable first Grand Slam victory. 
"I have won some big titles around the world, played some amazing matches. This one ranks (number) one for me," declared Kyrgios. 
"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. 
"I'm just super proud of myself. I don't really care too much after I lost to (Daniil) Medvedev (in singles), but doing it with 'Kokk' is insane." 

Pandemonium followed match point for the childhood friends

Kokkinakis echoed that sentiment, placing this triumph at the top of his tennis moments.  
"I have had an unbelievable summer. Comparing to what I have gone through in the years I have had the last few years, I couldn't have asked for anything more. Adelaide was No. 1 for me, but this has trumped it," explained the 25-year-old. 

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"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." 

'K squared,' another of the nicknames swirling social media for the Kokkinakis/Kyrgios combination, had electrified the local crowds all fortnight, and continued on that course on Saturday night. 
Locked level at 3-3, a Kyrgios angled volley was tapped around the net post by Ebden only for Kokkinakis to smash an inside-in forehand winner.  
Kyrgios brought in the 'tweener volleys as Kokkinakis clattered piercing passing shots – the duo were in fine fettle.  
Purcell threatened to steal away the set at 5-4, crushing a backhand return winner past Kyrgios, but the 26-year-old managed to hold. 
In the very next game, a dialled-in Kokkinakis arrowed a series of low returns to seize control of the rallies to lead to the opening break at their fourth attempt. The singles world No.103 served out the set. 

In the first point of the second set, Ebden took a 'tweener shot out of the Kyrgios playbook to prevail in a riveting rally, and Purcell split their opponents with a fizzing forehand down the middle.  

Ebden and Purcell had their chances in the second set

However, they were under pressure on serve again at 3-3, Kyrgios' flicked forehand pass the catalyst for the decisive break.  
It was left to Kyrgios to serve out the title triumph and launch the friends right through from the junior days to become the first wild card team to win the Australian Open men's doubles title in the Open Era.  
A roar to their box, hugs, kisses, the Kyrgios and Kokkinakis bromance was alive and kicking.  

Kyrgios signed the broadcast camera, "Only good vibes," to cap another feel-good factor triumph for the green and gold on Saturday night after Ash Barty's women's singles final triumph. 
On court, Kokkinakis hailed a "crazy cherry on top" of his first ATP title on home courts in Adelaide earlier this month. It's been a well-documented, injury-maligned few seasons for the 25-year-old. 
"Not a chance," admitted Kokkinakis, asked if he felt a couple months ago he'd be back at this level. 
"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'? 

"I said to my team after, 'Whatever happens, if I snap my knee tomorrow', this was after Adelaide, 'I'm happy'. I've won a title, coming from kind of where I felt was the lowest low to come and win a title in my hometown was incredible. It's just a big weight off my shoulders. It's a testament to my team and everyone that stuck by me through a lot of hard times. 
"Hopefully this is a start, but as I said, if this is as good as it gets for me, I'm happy."