Nick Kyrgios has taken aim at suggestions from Australian tennis great Pat Rafter that his on-court antics with doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis have rubbed fellow players up the wrong way. Kyrgios and Kokkinakis - nicknamed the 'Special Ks' - took the tennis world by storm after winning the doubles title at last year's Australian Open.
Their brand of high-octane, in-your-face tennis proved a hit with fans at Melbourne Park, with the atmosphere at their matches resembling something more like a game of football. The Special Ks have thrived off the energy they create during their matches and always make a concerted effort to ramp up the support and the noise from fans in the stands.
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While many supporters love the unique theatre that the Aussie pair create during their matches, others have criticised them for going overboard with their remonstrations and on-court antics. Rafter claims the Special Ks have ruffled more than a few feathers with other players on tour after labelling their doubles act a "circus".
“It’s an interesting one that is, because the players are really upset about it,” Rafter said on the Australian Open: The Happy Slam podcast. “I don’t know how that operates with them and doesn’t really bother me either way.
"It’s a bit of a circus... doubles is a great event, it’s a lot of fun, and it helps you with singles, but it’s not where it’s at. But at the same time, it’s entertainment.”
Love them or hate them, there is no denying that the Special Ks put bums on seats, with their doubles matches invariably attracting packed stadiums - something not often associated with doubles matches. While Rafter accepts that the Aussie duo are undeniably entertaining, he questions the manner in which they go about their business.
“If they create drama, create ticket sales, and they create people watching, then good on them, but at what expense, I don’t know. The players are really upset. Are you supposed to understand the underwritten rule that that’s not how you behave when you do?” Rafter added.
Kyrgios hit back at the swipe from Rafter by labelling the Aussie tennis legend "clueless". The 27-year-old questioned how someone like Rafter would be able to give an accurate assessment of the inner workings of the locker rooms in tennis.
“He would have absolutely zero idea on what the locker room thinks. Me and kokk have great relationships with most of the players on tour. Guy is clueless,” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
He would have absolutely zero idea on what the locker room thinks 🤣 me and kokk have great relationships with most of the players on tour. Guy is clueless.
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) January 11, 2023
Nick Kyrgios-Novak Djokovic match raises eyebrows
Kyrgios has been in a bullish mood ahead of the Australian Open, and hit out at critics after tickets for Friday night's practice match against Novak Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena sold out in less than one hour. “Wow Nick Kyrgios is bad for the sport! Wow what a disgrace, a national embarrassment! How dare he sell out another stadium, the arrogance,” Kyrgios tweeted in response.
The match between the Aussie and the 21-time grand slam winner is one of several practice matches being played on Rod Laver Arena before the Australian Open gets underway. Wednesday's match between Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev saw the Serb leave the court with an apparent hamstring issue after just 36 minutes, having lost the first set 6-4.
Aussie great Pat Cash has criticised Tennis Australia for organising Friday's exhibition match between Kyrgios and Djokovic, despite tickets priced at a modest $20 and proceeds going to the Australian Tennis Foundation.
Cash claims TA has "bent over backwards" to help Kyrgios prepare for the Australian Open and says no other grand slam would afford such an opportunity to its top-ranked player.
“What’s quite extraordinary, it’s actually hard to believe, Tennis Australia is putting on an event, on centre court, for Nick and Djokovic - I don’t know, is Novak gonna play, has he pulled out of it?” Cash said on SEN’s Sportsday.
“In what country, in what grand slam - would you have Wimbledon suddenly pulling out centre court or court 1 because Andy Murray needed a practice match? “It’s hard to believe, they certainly wouldn’t do it at the French Open. There’s kids day and whatever and you go and play that. At the French Open it wouldn’t happen.
“They’ve bent over backwards to help Nick to get some matches and to do this, I don’t know.”
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