Thanasi Kokkinakis has delivered a dagger blow to Aussie tennis fans hoping to see him and Nick Kyrgios go back-to-back and win the doubles title again at the Australian Open. The 'Special Ks' provided one of the storylines of the 2022 Open when they won their maiden grand slam titles together.
The Aussie stars will be back in action on the doubles court this week. But according to Kokkinakis, fans should temper their expectations about a repeat performance.
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"No, I don't," he said when asked if he thinks the Special Ks will win the title again this year at Melbourne Park. "Last year was something we didn't expect.
"I remember people messaged me after every match we won being like, 'You're going to win this thing'. I'm like, 'No, someone's going to beat us. We're going to lose to a doubles team, for sure'.
"It became a possibility from the quarter-finals. I legit thought, 'We can be better than these guys. We can win'. If I was to say I'm expecting to back it up, I'd be lying."
Kyrgios has also flagged the likelihood of pulling out of the doubles if he goes on a deep run in the singles. The World No.21 has never made it past the quarter-finals, but is coming off a career year in 2022 in which he made the final at Wimbledon.
"We're going to go out there and give 100 per cent," Kokkinakis added. "Hopefully we're both healthy going into it."
Despite pouring cold water on his doubles hopes, the 26-year-old reckons he's in better shape than this time last year. Kokkinakis will take on Italian firebrand Fabio Fognini in the first round, having beaten the World No.57 in their only two previous meetings.
"I'm definitely up and about - I think I've got a bit more in me this time than I did last year," the Aussie said. "Although I won the tournament in Adelaide last year, I feel like I'm playing better tennis this time around. I'm really happy with my level going into it and I'm ready to give it my all on Tuesday."
The South Australian said his goals in 2023 are to stay healthy and get past his career-high ranking of 69 - which he first reached in 2015 before matching it again last year.
"Yeah, I don't know how I fell on the exact same number," he said. "It's pretty unlucky - I'm going to try and beat that and try to break into the top 50.
"My goal is try and win another title this year. I just want to be healthy and keep playing and improve my game. If I do that, then I think the ranking will follow."
Nick Kyrgios dismisses lack of match practice
Kyrgios hasn't played a tour-level singles match since last October, but is confident his lack of match practice won't come back to bite him. The Aussie star's only match practice in the lead-up to the Australian Open was an exhibition against Novak Djokovic.
He withdrew from the United Cup and Adelaide International due to an ankle injury he picked up during an exhibition event in Dubai in December. But Kyrgios said he wasn't concerned about his lack of court time heading into his first-round clash Russian World No.98 Roman Safiullin.
"I have always been a player that doesn't need too many matches," Kyrgios told reporters on Saturday. "I played 12 to 13 events last year which felt like that was a lot of tennis.
"Obviously there are players that need a lot of matches going into a grand slam but me, I just like to feel fresh, I like to feel like I've got everything under control."
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