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Thanasi Kokkinakis to defend doubles crown with Nick Kyrgios

The Special Ks – Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios –won the 2022 Australian Open men's doubles title.

The Special Ks – Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios –won the 2022 Australian Open men's doubles title. Photo: Getty

Despite ending up “cooked” at last year’s Australian Open, Thanaski Kokkinakis doesn’t plan on dialling down his start to the tennis year and will play doubles again with Nick Kyrgios.

Kokkinakis is playing both editions of his home Adelaide International which started on Sunday and is also defending his maiden ATP singles title in the second tournament next week.

Kygrios is also due to play in week two, however he pulled out of Australia’s United Cup team with an ankle injury.

Kokkinakis was uncertain if his good mate would front in Adelaide but was confident the Special Ks would reunite to defend their Australian Open doubles crown.

“We’ll be playing at Aussie – doubles is a lot less taxing on the body, and mentally it’s a bit easier as well,” Kokkinakis told reporters in Adelaide.

“Obviously singles is our priority, but I think it would be rude not to go out there and have fun with it.”

Kokkinakis beat France’s Arthur Rinderknech in an epic final to win his Adelaide title last year while he was also pushed to three sets in three rounds leading up to that.

The trophy came after also reaching the semi-finals in the first Adelaide tournament, beaten by eventual champion Gael Monfils.

He admitted the workload took its toll once he arrived at Melbourne Park but said he had no regrets.

“I felt like I had a marathon almost every match in that second week,” the 26-year-old said.

“It was pretty full on coming into Aussie, but I wouldn’t change it any other way.

“It was a blessing and a curse – obviously it was my greatest week on tour and an incredible moment.

“Even though I lost and was pretty cooked for AO, I still wouldn’t have changed it.”

With a world ranking of 93, Kokkinakis got a wildcard into this week’s Adelaide draw, which is stacked with talent.

Top seed Novak Djokovic is playing in Australia for the first time since he was deported from last year’s Open and is drawn to play Frenchman Constant Lestienne in round one.

Another former world No.1 Daniil Medvedev, now ranked seven, takes on Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

World No.6 Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime is the second seed and will face a qualifier.

Kokkinakis will play American world No.34 Maxime Cressy while Jordan Thompson is up against France’s Quentin Halys and another Australian Chris O’Connell meets Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

Alexei Popyrin won his way into the main draw, beating China’s Wu Yibing 6-4 3-6 7-5 in the final round of qualifying on Sunday.

He was joined by fellow Australian up and comer Rinky Hijikata, a 7-5 6-4 winner over compatriot James Duckworth.

Meanwhile, Americans Marcus Giron and MacKenzie McDonald enjoyed early main draw wins.

-AAP

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