It’s been 9,135 days since an Aussie pairing has won the Australian Open. In 1997, Tood Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde held the trophy aloft.
Today, no matter the result, Australia had it’s first men’s doubles Australian Open champion in a quarter of a century.
The most unlikely doubles finalists in Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis faced 34-year-old Matthew Ebden who teamed up with Max Purcell, aged 11 years younger than his partner.
Three of the four Aussies have tasted men’s doubles success before, but not at Grand Slam level. Kokkinakis won the 2017 Brisbane International with Aussie partner Jordan Thompson, whilst Kyrgios won the 2018 Lyon Open with close mate, Jack Sock.
Veteran Ebden has previously won four men’s doubles titles, whilst youngster Purcell is yet to taste success in an ATP tournament, but is the only of the four men to reach a Grand Slam final.
The Sydneysider partnered with Luke Saville in the 2020 Australian Open final, but went down to Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram. Ironically, Purcell and Ebden knocked the pair out in the semi-final of this year’s Australian Open.
Serve the key in tight first set
On a famous day for Australian tennis, one of the pairs would join Ash Barty as first-time Australian Open winners.
Before the match had even begun, Kyrgios was entertaining the crowd. The charismatic Aussie walked into the arena while streaming live on Instagram, and as he reached his chair he held a bottle of water between the legs of a security guard and sprayed water all over the ground.
Despite the two Aussie pairings, the crowd was heavily favouring the entertaining Kyrgios and Kokkinakis duo.
Purcell served first, holding a lengthy and tricky opening game of the match before Kyrgios raced through his service game to level the score.
Both pairs continued to hold serve throughout the set, despite an early Kyrgios tweener losing his side the point.
The seventh game was highlighted by a remarkable rally in which Ebden was able to hit the ball around the net post, but a bullet Kokkinakis forehand won the point.
The first break point opportunity of the match came the way of the Special Ks, with the score delicately poised at 15-40 and the set score at 5-5. The serve of South African-born Ebden held its nerve to get the game back to deuce three times, but it was Kyrgios and Kokkinakis who successfully broke.
The South Australian Kokkinakis served out the set, leading to cries of ‘Siuuuu’ throughout the still-packed Rod Laver Arena.
Two best mates become champions
A brilliant through-the-legs shot from Ebden got the crowd cheering in his and Purcell’s favour in the very first point of the set.
Serve would have a major say again in the second set, as 19 straight points were won by the serving team.
Out of nowhere, 26-year-old Kyrgios and 25-year-old Kokkinakis won Ebden’s service game to love, enhancing their prospect of a first ever Grand Slam title.
Amazingly, Kokkinakis’ best Grand Slam result before the Australian Open was a third round run with Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon seven years ago, whilst Kyrgios has reached the third round at both Flushing Meadows and in Paris.
Read more: Ash Barty becomes Australian Open champion
A break occurred during the ninth game of the set, as a trio of unruly crowd members were kicked out by security. The trio, continually calling out as the players serve, were initially told to leave by Kyrgios before security intervened.
The Special K duo led 5-3 as Purcell served to keep his pair in the set. A championship point was afforded to Kyrgios and Kokkinakis but it was blown.
It mattered little though, as Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis became Grand Slam champions, winning 7-5 6-3.
Perhaps the most unexpected Grand Slam victory the world has seen for quite some time, the rise of Kyrgios and Kokkinakis has been nothing short of remarkable.
The pair are on record as saying they play doubles purely for enjoyment, but their summer of entertainment has perhaps changed the game forever.
A famous day for Australian tennis.
‘I love you brother’
Speaking after the match, Kokkinakis and Kyrgios couldn’t believe that they are now Grand Slam champions.
“Nick, I love you brother. I can honestly say we did not expect to even come close to this,” Kokkinakis said as a parochial crowd cheered.
Kyrgios added he was thrilled to become champion with his best mate.
“This week has become a dream come true and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else.”
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