Kyrgios, Kokkinakis unrepentant as "circus" rolls into Australian Open final
Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis have provided a captivating sideshow in doubles en route to the final and said people enjoy something a bit different.
Nick Kyrgios has often walked a tightrope when it comes to etiquette on a tennis court, but the surprise Australian Open doubles finalist insists: "I'm not creating a circus."
Playing with Thanasi Kokkinakis, Kyrgios has led an Australian charge to the men's doubles final, with compatriots Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell awaiting them in the title match.
It will be an all-Australian final in the men's doubles for the first time since 1980, guaranteeing home champions.
Showman Kyrgios mounted a defence of his brand of tennis after he and Kokkinakis downed Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.
New Zealander Michael Venus had expressed annoyance at the behaviour of Kyrgios this week, after he and Tim Putz lost out in the quarter-finals to the home pair.
Venus said that match, which Kyrgios and Kokkinakis won in a deciding set, "felt like a circus", while taking direct aim at the conduct of Kyrgios by saying his maturity level was that of a 10-year-old.
Kyrgios, 26, says he can mix top-level tennis with entertainment, rebutting the "circus" accusation.
"I think I played pretty good tennis in the past. I've beaten pretty much every player that's picked up a racket," he told a news conference.
"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 played, won titles, won big titles, I have played the traditional way. I think now I'm able to channel a different fan base. I think it's only positive in my opinion."
At the 2015 US Open, American tennis great John McEnroe questioned the eccentric shot selection of Kyrgios in a first-round loss to Andy Murray, telling ESPN: "You don’t want to be remembered as a clown. You want to be remembered as a player. He thinks he's a vaudeville entertainer."
Kokkinakis firmly backed his 'Special Ks' doubles partner on Thursday, saying critics should look at the attention Kyrgios brings to the sport from beyond its usual viewership.
"I think people have just got to be open," Kokkinakis said. "You're always trying to develop a sport and grow a sport.
"Of course, you've got to keep it within the boundaries. If people are so narrow-minded they can't see this is bringing a lot of fans and a lot of eyes, I think that is their problem honestly."
Kyrgios then addressed Kokkinakis, saying: "I think the quality of tennis was pretty good today, don't you think?"
Kokkinakis agreed. "That is what it is about. It's about having a good product on court that people actually come and enjoy. You can't please everyone," he said.