Australian Open: Kyrgios embracing 'role model' tag after overshadowing Nadal

By Sports Desk January 25, 2022

Nick Kyrgios is hoping to inspire the next generation of tennis stars after taking centre stage at the Australian Open with his run to the men's doubles semi-finals.

The 26-year-old fan favourite and partner Thanasi Kokkinakis downed sixth seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus 7-5 3-6 6-3 in Tuesday's quarter-final clash.

The contest was watched by a lively crowd on Kia Arena and overshadowed Rafael Nadal's five-set win over Denis Shapovalov on Rod Laver Arena at the same time.

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, who were given a wildcard into the draw after being knocked out of the singles early on, will now face Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

"I'm not finished – I want to win this f****** thing," Kyrgios declared in his on-court interview. "We know what we do well and it's world-class. 

"That's what we'll do again. I just want to play and give the people of Australia a show and genuinely grow the sport of tennis."

Kyrgios showed his caring side early in the match when handing a racket to a fan in the crowd after accidentally hitting the youngster with one of Kokkinakis' faulted balls.

The Australian public have embraced the pair's deep run in the competition and Kyrgios, often a controversial character, is glad to see so many younger spectators watching on.

"There is no way around it; me and Thanasi are definitely role models to the youth in Australia. We obviously attract that crowd," he said at his post-match news conference.

"I know that over the years I haven't been the best role model, but I was just learning how to deal with everything. 

"I think now at 26 I have matured, and I've definitely realised that a lot of young kids and people, even people that are low on confidence, they do look towards us.

"We are not special people. We're normal humans that you might see walking in Australia, and we are now in the semi-finals of a grand slam.

"I feel like I think we are just relatable. I think that's what's the best thing about it. They go out and get behind their mates. Most of the guys in the crowd are our mates.

"You've got Roger Federer and these guys that are just once-a-generation athletes. I can't be like that. We're not like that. I feel it has to be people that are a bit more relatable."

The Aussie pair's next opponents Granollers and Zeballos have won six tour-level titles as a team, but have never gone all the way at a grand slam.

Kokkinakis is hoping to have similar backing from the expectant home fans on Thursday.

Asked about the support he and his doubles partner have received so far, Kokkinakis said: "The rowdier the better. Sink p*** and come here.

"The next guys are experienced veterans, but we're going to keep playing how we play, have fun and enjoy the crowd."

Related items

  • Tomljanovic cruises through in Morocco as Linette progresses in Strasbourg Tomljanovic cruises through in Morocco as Linette progresses in Strasbourg

    Ajla Tomljanovic secured a routine first-round win over Irene Burillo Escorihuela at the Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Morocco, while Magda Linette made comfortable progress at the Internationaux de Strasbourg. 

    Second seed Tomljanovic wrapped up a 6-2 6-1 win over her Spanish opponent in Rabat on Sunday, kick-starting her bid to better her second-placed finish at the 2018 edition of the event.

    The world number 44, who was beaten by fellow Australian Ashleigh Barty in the Wimbledon quarter-finals after overcoming Emma Raducanu in London last year, is on course for a potential meeting with Croatian 16-year-old Petra Marcinko, who shocked ninth seed Rebecca Peterson to claim a three-set victory.

    The Australian Open girls' champion and junior world number one claimed a superb 6-0 2-6 7-5 win over the Swede for her first career top 100 triumph.

    At the Internationaux de Strasbourg, meanwhile, eighth seed Linette saw off Varvara Gracheva 6-3 6-0 to reach the round-of-16, setting up a potential tie with Heather Watson.

    Elsewhere, Harmony Tan downed Australia's Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-1 to set up a potential round-of-16 meeting with Shuai Zhang, who faces Belgium's Maryna Zanevska on Monday.

  • Mannarino upsets sixth seed Karatsev at Lyon Open Mannarino upsets sixth seed Karatsev at Lyon Open

    Adrian Mannarino dumped sixth seed Aslan Karatsev out of the Lyon Open with a straight-sets victory on day one.

    Mannarino secured a 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 win on Sunday to reach the second round in his homeland.

    The Frenchman roared back from 5-1 down in the first set and rocked Karatsev further by winning the tie-break.

    Mannarino then claimed the only break of the second set to advance at the expense of the Russian.

    Holger Rune will be his opponent in round two following the Dane's 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3) defeat of Arthur Rinderknech.

    Francisco Cerundolo will do battle with top seed Cameron Norrie in the second round after the Argentine saw off James Duckworth 6-2 3-6 6-3.

    There were just two matches in the first round of the Geneva Open, with Tallon Griekspoor and Kamil Majchrzak progressing at the expense of seeds Tommy Paul (6) and Alexander Bublik (8) respectively. 

  • Djokovic staves off Tsitsipas threat to land sixth Rome title ahead of French Open defence Djokovic staves off Tsitsipas threat to land sixth Rome title ahead of French Open defence

    Novak Djokovic became the oldest winner of the Internazionali d'Italia men's singles title in the Open Era as he fended off Stefanos Tsitsipas on the clay in Rome.

    The world number one said he played a "perfect set" to race through the opener, before coming from a break down in the second to earn a 6-0 7-6 (7-5) victory in Sunday's final.

    Djokovic made it a record-extending 38th Masters 1000 title in what was his 55th final at this level, and it was his sixth triumph at this event in the Italian capital.

    At 34 years, 11 months and 23 days old, Djokovic is 10 days older than the previous oldest Rome champion, Rafael Nadal, who took the title last year.

    He boosted his head-to-head record to 7-2 against Greek star Tsitsipas, winning their last six matches and all five they have contested on clay, including last year's French Open final where Djokovic came from two sets behind to scoop the grand slam. This victory clearly augurs well for Djokovic's upcoming title defence in Paris.

    Djokovic broke serve to love in the opening game, Tsitsipas swatting a volley into the net to hand over the early advantage and set the tone for a wildly one-sided set.

    Tsitsipas broke to lead 3-1 in the second set and he served for it at 5-3 but was broken to 15, sending a forehand wide on game point. The tie-break that soon followed was hard fought, with Tsitsipas looping a backhand long on match point as Serbian Djokovic earned the trophy once again.

    Reflecting on his fast start, and his first title of 2022, Djokovic said on Amazon Prime: "I pleasantly surprised myself, I can say, even though I had a clear game plan and strategy coming into the match. I knew what to expect from the other side so I knew what I had to do, but I did play a perfect set, no doubt about it.

    "After that it was a little bit tight, the beginning of the second for me. He used it, and at this level one or two points can turn a match around and he was back in the game. At 4-1 up for him and 30-40, the match could have easily gone into a third set, but I somehow managed to find the right shots at the right time to come back in the game, and the tie-breaker, I guess I was just an inch better, maybe calmer, and it was a tight tie-break for both of us."

    Ahead of the French Open, which gets under way next Sunday, Djokovic is feeling in great shape for his title defence. Having missed the Australian Open in January in a deportation drama, Djokovic will head to Paris as a major rival to teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz.

    Should Djokovic triumph at Roland Garros, he would match Nadal's men's record of 21 grand slams.

    "I've been building my form in the last couple of weeks and like the previous years I knew that my best shape on clay was usually coming around Rome time," Djokovic said.

    "So it couldn't be a better time, coming into Roland Garros with a title at this wonderful tournament. I'm going to Paris with a lot of confidence."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.