Don't get Thanasi Kokkinakis mixed up with Nick Kyrgios. That's the lesson a reporter learned the hard way at the Australian Open on Wednesday night.
The Aussie's press conference got off to a comical start following his win over Fabio Fognini when a journalist said: "Hi Nick." Kokkinakis was taken aback by the blunder before joking: "Oh, wow. That is a firing."
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Kokkinakis jokingly threatened to kick the journo out, saying: "That's you done. I'm going to can that. That is shithouse from you."
The reporter defended his gaffe by saying he was about to ask a question about Kyrgios as laughter broke out around the press room. Kokkinakis teamed up with Kyrgios to win the doubles title at the Australian Open last year. However their title defence was ended before a ball was hit in anger after Kyrgios was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.
Kokkinakis sparked more laughter when he commended another journo for getting his name right on the next question. It wasn't the only bizarre gaffe during a press conference on Wednesday, with Greek star Maria Sakkari forced to deny a query that she told her coach she would "break his neck" in Netflix's new documentary 'Break Point'.
“Neck? No," she replied in shock. “Racquet. I’m going to break the racquet." The reporter responded: “Oh break the racquet? Ok. I misheard you."
Sakkari then said: “Do you think I’m that violent that I would break my coach’s neck? No, no, the racquet. I’m a nice person, trust me! I think it was tough to hear and tough to understand what I said, but I said for sure the racquet. I’m not that aggressive with anyone around me.”
Kokkinakis will face Andy Murray in the second round after his restarted match against Fognini was finished in a matter of minutes. Kokkinakis was just five points away from a straight-sets victory on Tuesday night when rain stopped play for a sixth and final time.
The match recommenced on Wednesday night, with Kokkinakis barely breaking a sweat to complete the match. Fognini's performance came under heavy fire from fans and commentators, with many accusing him of 'tanking'.
Kokkinakis will now take on three-time grand slam champion Murray in the second round after the Scot produced a shock win over Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday. "He was someone when I came onto tour that was always willing to give some advice when he thought.
"I practised with him a fair bit, I played doubles with him at Indian Wells. So we have a fairly good relationship."
Thanasi Kokkinakis wins on brutal night for Aussies
Kokkinakis' victory was the only one for Australia on Wednesday night as John Millman, Jason Kubler, Olivia Gadecki, Rinky Hijikata, Max Purcell and Aleksandar Vukic were all knocked out. Purcell and Vukic were forced to complete their first round matches like Kokkinakis, but both lost in thrillers.
Purcell saved three match points in a fourth set tie-breaker before fashioning two set points of his own. However he eventually went down 6-4 3-6 4-6 8-6 (13-11) on Emil Ruusuvuori's fifth match point. Vukic forced a fifth set against American Brandon Holt, only to bow out 6-4 1-6 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Millman, Kubler, Hijikata and Gadecki were all playing their second round matches on Wednesday night. However the Aussie wildcards were severely outmatched.
Kubler managed to take a set off 18th seed Karen Khachanov before going down 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2. Millman was soundly beaten by Russian star Daniel Medvedev 7-5 6-2 6-2, while Gadecki was thrashed 6-2 6-1 by Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk. And Hijikata couldn't back up his heroics from the first round, going down 6-3 6-0 6-2 to third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
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