Nick Kyrgios caught in 'shameful' controversy over US Open decision

Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis, pictured here ahead of the US Open.
Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis will go head-to-head on centre court at the US Open. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

US Open organisers have sparked controversy after Nick Kyrgios' first-round clash with Thanasi Kokkinakis was scheduled on centre court on the opening night at Flushing Meadows.

The all-Australian first-round showdown has been given top billing and scheduled as the feature men's night match to complete a blockbuster day-one program on Monday.

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Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, great mates and Australian Open doubles champions, will go head-to-head immediately after an emotion-charged Serena Williams plays what could potentially be the last match of her career.

Earlier this month Williams declared she would step away from professional tennis after the hard-court grand slam in New York.

The former World No.1 and 23-time grand slam champion has been duly afforded top billing on Monday night, with Williams opening the evening action on Arthur Ashe Stadium against Montenegro's Danka Kovinic.

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis will then follow in prime time in the US, hitting world tennis' biggest stage under the lights in New York around 9pm (11am Tuesday AEST).

"It will be pretty nuts. It's crazy to just look at the court and see how big it is. It's a different feeling, that's for sure," Kokkinakis told AAP after a practice session at Flushing Meadows on Friday.

Kyrgios beat Kokkinakis in the Australian Open junior boys final in 2013, but the Special Ks will be clashing for the first time in the pro ranks on Monday night.

Kokkinakis said he could barely believe the match-up materialised at Thursday's draw, which ironically took place in a low-key, officials-only affair on Ashe.

He said and Kyrgios were practising next to each other when news filtered through.

Serena Williams and Nick Kyrgios, pictured here in New York ahead of the US Open.
Serena Williams (second from left) and Nick Kyrgios (far right) have been given centre court on the opening night at the US Open. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Lotte New York Palace )

"It was pretty nuts. I got tweeted at and thought that's got to be wrong. It's less than one per cent chance of drawing each other," Kokkinakis said.

"So it's pretty crazy how it turned out.

"It's kind of surprising it hasn't happened before to be honest. It's a bit weird but we'll go out and try and enjoy ourselves and have fun."

While Kyrgios is understandably a main attraction and made the Wimbledon final last month, some fans weren't happy that he'd been given centre court status ahead of others.

Some felt 2020 champion Dominic Thiem should have been given the honour, or World No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Instead, Thiem's clash with 12th seed and recent Canadian Open champion Pablo Carreño Busta has been put on Court 17.

Thiem won the US Open in 2020 but has struggled to win anything in recent months after a long recovery from wrist surgery.

Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis team up for doubles

No matter who triumphs in their singles clash, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis will once again team up in the doubles, chasing a fourth title in a remarkable season together.

The pair are sitting sixth in the rankings race to the ATP Finals in London, which features the top eight teams of 2022.

After their maiden grand slam triumph at the Australian Open in January, the Special Ks added doubles titles in Atlanta and Washington last month.

The Kyrgios-Kokkinakis clash will complete a bumper program of Australians in action on day one of the final grand slam of the year.

Aussie No.1s Alex de Minaur and Ajla Tomljanovic, plus Daria Saville, Jordan Thompson and John Millman are also in action.

De Minaur opens against Serb Filip Krajinovic, Thompson plays Italy's Lorenzo Sonego and Millman faces American wildcard Emilio Nava.

Ajla Tomljanovic starts against Czech Karolina Muchova and Saville takes on Elena-Gabriela Ruse fresh from reaching this week's final in Quebec.

Fellow Australians Jaimee Fourlis, Rinky Hijikata against the great Rafael Nadal, Jason Kubler, Alexei Popyrin, James Duckworth and Chris O'Connell all open their tournaments on day two.

with AAP

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