Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis have won the first set of their Australian Open doubles semi-final showdown after getting the better of third seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in a thrilling tie-break.
The Aussie pair used a flurry of big first serves to stay in the first set as they were roared on by a raucous crowd at Rod Laver Arena before claiming the decisive tie break 7-4.
Kyrgios has taken his firebrand reputation to a new level at this year’s Australian Open – repeatedly whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his explosive on-court antics.
But on Thursday the Canberra born on-court entertainer and close mate Kokkinakis are all business as they fight for a place in a Grand Slam final.
Spectators have also been on their best behaviour – unlike the wild scenes from previous rounds on John Cain Arena.
Aussie firebrand Nick Kyrgios reacts at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday. He and his doubles partner Thanisi Kokkinakis are up against the third-seeded Horacio Zeballos of Argentina against Marcel Granollers of Spain
Kokkinakis and Kyrgios come together during their men’s doubles semi-final match on Thursday
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Kyrgios pumps up the crowd as he arrives on court with his doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis on Thursday
Fellow Australians Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell are also well placed, claiming the first set in the other semi-final against Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram, the second seeds.
Purcell, from Sydney’s northern beaches, made the men’s doubles final in 2020 alongside Luke Saville.
On Wednesday night, Michael Venus fired a brutal shot at the 26-year-old, labelling Kyrgiois an immature and a ‘absolute knob’ who would never reach his full potential.
It came after Kyrgios and Kokkinakis made it to the semi-finals after an epic quarter final win against Venus and Tim Puetz – the sixth-seeds – at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
Nick Kyrgios, pictured with girlfriend Costeen Hatzi, came under fire on Wednesday night from a bitter rival
Venus then unleashed an extraordinary tirade about Kyrgios’ fiery on-court antics and raucous crowd, describing the drama-filled three set thriller as more like a circus than a tennis match.
The Kiwi star didn’t hold back on what what he thinks of the world number 115 in an explosive interview.
‘His maturity level, you see why he’s never fulfilled his potential and probably never will,’ he told New Zealand television station 1 News.
‘At the end of the day, he’s just an absolute knob!’
Venus regards Kyrgios as an impressive player, but believes the Aussie’s explosive temper and controversial behaviour both on and off the court get the better of him.
‘What he can do out there, his tennis IQ on the court, it is amazing, and he’s definitely on that side of things one of the best players in the world,’ the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist continued.
‘If anyone can sit there and tell me he doesn’t care when he’s frustrated and getting upset on the court, I mean it’s an absolute contradiction.
Kiwi tennis star Michael Venus (pictured) didn’t hold back on what he thinks of Nick Kyrgios in an explosive television interview
‘If you really didn’t care, you wouldn’t be getting upset out there or annoyed with things or frustrated.’
Kyrgios lost his cool early in the match when he smashed a ball into the crowd in anger, accidentally hitting a young fan in the stomach.
He immediately apologised and gave one of his racquets to the visibly distressed boy as a peace offering.
The Australian star also later smashed a tennis racquet after a furious row with the chair umpire.
Michael Venus (pictured with wife Sally) claims Kyrgios has the maturity of a 10-year-old
While nine-year-old Fin Crane has forgiven his new sporting hero, Venus labelled Kyrgios’s gesture as a PR stunt.
‘He already did get mad there by himself,’ Venus said.
‘It’s amazing, he can smash a ball out that hits a kid and just ’cause he gives them a racquet afterwards people can say he’s such a good guy.’
Venus was also critical of the hostile crowd at Kia Arena that repeatedly jeered and taunted him and his German doubles partner Putz.
Venus slammed Kyrgios over his explosive on-court antics (pictured) during their quarter final showdown at the Australian Open on Tuesday
Kyrgios was also accused of antagonising the crowd and later made fun of Venus by mimicking his toss late in the match.
‘It felt like a circus out there, and not really a tennis match,’ Venus said.
‘Between serves, [they were] geeing the crowd up and getting them to cheer at times like that. I don’t think that’s really on.
‘You know if it’s on the other foot, old mate [Kyrgios] would have flipped his lid.’
‘The amount of messages I got from people, an extreme amount, way, way more than I‘ve ever had but then a lot of messages from people saying how embarrassed they were with the crowd’s behaviour and they’re sorry, it shouldn’t have been like that.’
‘There’ll always be his supporters, and they’ll always spin it in a way that helps him.’
Kyrgios lost his cool early in the match when he smashed a ball into the crowd in anger, accidentally hitting a young fan (pictured) in the stomach.
Venus’ comments have sparked a divided reaction from tennis fans.
‘He called it 100 per cent about Kyrgios and how he behaves. Tips hat to his talent, and how great he could be if he could control his emotions,’ one tweeted.
Another added: ‘Michael Venus is an absolute loser who simply can’t handle the fact that he lost to a guy who plays doubles casually and doesn’t give a f***, while Michael has dedicated his entire career to it.’
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis will meet third seeded pair Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Nick Kyrgios (pictured Thanasi Kokkinakis) with was also accused of antagonising the crowd and later made fun of his opponent by mimicking his toss late in the match.
Young boy left in tears after he was smashed in the stomach by a Nick Kyrgios tennis ball reveals his injuries and how he REALLY feels about the superstar now
By Andrew Prentice for Daily Mail Australia
The youngster who copped an accidental tennis ball to the stomach from Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open has revealed it was ‘quite a shock’.
Speaking to The Today Show on Wednesday, Fin Crane, 9, confirmed the ball thumped into his chest and ‘really hurt.’
The pint-sized tennis fan has forgiven Kyrgios, who was playing a doubles quarter-final with Thanasi Kokkinakis on John Cain Arena against New Zealand’s Michael Venus and Germany’s Tim Puetz on Tuesday.
Perhaps sensing they could be defaulted for unsportsmanlike conduct, Krygios immediately apologised before handing one of his tennis racquets to a shaken and visibly upset Fin as a peace offering.
The move paid off, with Fin stating the Canberra born on-court entertainer is now his sporting hero.
The youngster who copped an accidental tennis ball to the stomach from Nick Kyrgios (pictured) at the Australian Open has revealed it was ‘quite a shock’
Fin Crane (pictured right) told viewers on the Today Show the ball thumping into his chest ‘really hurt’
‘It hit me in the stomach and it did hurt,’ Fin told Today Show viewers as he pointed to where the ball hit him.
‘Giving me his bat (racquet) made me feel a lot better, he (Kyrgios) is now my favourite player.’
The drama started when Krygios let his frustrations get the better of him.
Reacting to a let call from the chair umpire on a Kokkinakis serve in the fourth game of the opening set, Kyrgios smashed the ball straight into the ground.
Hit with such velocity, it bounced into the stand and hit young Fin, leaving the boy in tears.
Kyrgios was shocked by what unfolded, covering his mouth as cameras turned to show Fin in pain and shock – while clutching the ball in his hand.
Krygios immediately apologised following the incident before handing one of his tennis racquets (pictured) to a visibly upset Fin as a peace offering
After beating Venus and Puetz across three pulsating sets, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis next face third seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers on Thursday for a spot in the men’s doubles final.
Matches featuring the ‘Special K’s’ have lit up the tournament so far, with Kyrgios and Kokkinakis relishing the combined spotlight at Melbourne Park.
They make no apologies for whipping crowds into a frenzy at every opportunity, and are adamant the boisterous scenes help them on court.
‘When we walk through that tunnel, there is no feeling like it. We don’t want anything else. This is perfect,’ Kokkinakis said on Tuesday.
‘I haven’t played in a doubles match, even a singles match with this kind of atmosphere. Hopefully (tournament director) Craig (Tiley) keeps us on this court.
‘The rowdier the better.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk