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'It's f---ing awesome': Kyrgios feels hype of all-Aussie final, Alcott's beautiful farewell speech

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27th January, 2022
19

Well, that is an exciting twist.

Mere minutes before box office superstars Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis overwhelmed the tournament third seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers on a heaving Rod Laver Arena they were beaten into the men’s doubles finals by another Aussie pair.

The contrast between occasions couldn’t have been starker as Matt Ebden and Max Purcell stunned the second seed pair of Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in front of a sea of empty blue seats in a silent Margaret Court Arena.

Saturday’s meeting will be the first all-Australian men’s doubles final at the AO since 1980, and throws up an intriguing battle and perhaps a tweak of the AO crowd’s goto refrain – “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi oi, oi.”.

Will the maligned ‘cucumber sandwich set’ – the more traditional tennis fans who prefer polite applause to raucous and relentless barracking – throw their refined support behind Ebden and Purcell, and will the youngsters who have embraced the Special Ks find their enthusiasm to heckle stifled?

Kyrgios is certainly getting excited, trying to spark the same in the post-match press conference, telling reporters: “It’s amazing, we’ve got four Aussies in the finals. Can we up the energy a little bit? It’s f—ing awesome. Can we have some hype questions?”

However it unfolds it should be an exciting occasion, and perhaps playing against fellow Australians will help keep Kyrgios in check.

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Described by quarterfinal opponent Michael Venus as an “absolute knob” after their wild match up, the high spirited Aussie wound down his knobometer on Thursday – exploding briefly in the second set.

He was upset at shouts from the stands and the let machine and smashed a racquet. A few choice F bombs were let through to the keeper by the ump, and Kyrgios recovered his calm as the pair stomped out a 7-6, 6-4 win.

Nearby Purcell and Ebden won their first set and hung tough in a second set tie breaker, winning it 11-9.

“It’s all about the crowd, the atmosphere, that gets us going and we worry about the tennis second,” Kokkinakis said afterwards.

“It brings the best out of us and I don’t know if we would have got this result anywhere else.

“I think both of us bring something different, different energy, different sort of charisma on the court, but we just enjoy it and have fun.”

Legendary Rod Laver watched on from the front row, near to former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh, a master of mind games and mental disintegration.

But Kyrgios wasn’t in a mood to talk down his final rivals.

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“Those two are great doubles players and we’re not going to take them lightly,” Kyrgios said.

He said he didn’t want to carry on a feud with Venus either, although couldn’t resist a dig.

“I’m not going to destroy him (Venus) in this media conference right now, but Granollers and Zeballos are great players and I respect them a lot more than I respect Michael Venus,” he said.

“Zeballos took a selfie with us before we walked out, that’s how you embrace an atmosphere – not losing a match and getting salty about it afterwards.”

Kyrgios believed his combination with friend Kokkinakis was helping bring out his best.

“I think I’ve played pretty good tennis in the past,” Kyrgios said. “I’ve beaten pretty much every player that’s picked up a racquet.

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“I’ve obviously had to play a certain level of tennis. It’s not like I’m going out there putting on a clown suit and creating a circus.

“I have also won big titles, and played the traditional way. “I think now I’m able to channel a different fanbase.”

The decider is set to take place on Saturday night, after the women’s final, and Kokkinakis wants Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley to do his best to ensure the stadium is at capacity.

“Craig might not be happy with this — but if that means dropping prices so we can fill the stands, whatever will get it packed,” he said.

“The more the better, the atmosphere would be unreal.”

Meanwhile new Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott, an eight time winner, lost his quad singles final 7-5, 6-0 to Sam Schröder of the Netherlands in his last match before retiring.

He then delivered an absolute show stopper of a speech to rapturous applause and plenty of tears.

“It’s because of you all watching today that people like me get, not recognition, but are more integrated in society,” Alcott said.

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“To my community thanks for always backing me I hope to make you proud over the next 12 years – I mean months! Thank you to every single person for changing my life, I appreciate it so much.

“I’m really the luckiest guy in the world, and I didn’t need to win today to realise that. It would have been nice to win, to be honest, but I’m still the luckiest person in this country, if not the luckiest person in the world.

“If you look up along the middle ring and see how many people with disability are here, right, that’s the reason I get out of bed.”

(With AAP)

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