Thanasi Kokkinakis reveals mate Nick Kyrgios has been turning tennis into a ‘circus’ since he was 12

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Thanasi Kokkinakis braces himself for the “circus” that is Nick Kyrgios as he hatches a plan to defeat tennis’s greatest showman in a real US Open showstopper in New York.

Forget Broadway, a seat at the sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night is the hottest ticket in town, with the Australian doubles partners clashing after Serena Williams may have played the final game of her transcendent career.

Most of the 23,771 tickets available were purchased within hours of Williams announcing earlier this month that she was “evolving away from tennis” following her 21st Open campaign.

Thanasi Kokkinakis and close friend Nick Kyrgios pose with the trophy after winning the Atlanta Open doubles final.  The two meet in the first round of the US Open

Thanasi Kokkinakis and close friend Nick Kyrgios pose with the trophy after winning the Atlanta Open doubles final. The two meet in the first round of the US Open

Although Kokkinakis (pictured left) prefers to be beaten by his much more fancied friend, he believes he has the weapons to beat second place at Wimbledon

Although Kokkinakis (pictured left) prefers to be beaten by his much more fancied friend, he believes he has the weapons to beat second place at Wimbledon

Although Kokkinakis (pictured left) prefers to be beaten by his much more fancied friend, he believes he has the weapons to beat second place at Wimbledon

The 23-time grand slam champion’s ‘curtain raiser’ against Montenegrin Danka Kovinic is sure to be an exciting affair whatever the outcome, with Kyrgios saying he couldn’t afford to be dragged into the hysteria.

Wimbledon runner-up prefers knocking over his big size, but Kokkinakis has other ideas.

Finally injury free and ready to complete his first full Grand Slam season in seven years, Kokkinakis believes he has the weapons to beat Kyrgios in their first meeting in professional ranks.

“I’m not going to sit back and wait. I have to be aggressive and play my game and hopefully it will work for me,” Kokkinakis told AAP.

Kokkinakis says Kyrgios has been creating a circus around him since he was 12

Kokkinakis says Kyrgios has been creating a circus around him since he was 12

Kokkinakis says Kyrgios has been creating a circus around him since he was 12

However, Kokkinakis accepts that nothing will come easy, wary not only of Kyrgios’ powerful serve, but also of his colorful antics. The 26-year-old says he won’t take Kyrgios theater personally, but knows he must have the answers.

“He likes to live in a bit of chaos when it comes to competitions. He makes a bit of a circus around him and he just feels comfortable with that,” says Kokkinakis.

“He’s been doing it since he was a kid. Even 12 and under, 13 and under nationals – I’ve known him for a while. But of course he has the game to back it up. It’s not just that, so it’ll be awkward.’

The US Open tweeted the above image - a tribute to the Rick and Morty cartoon series, but featuring Kyrgios and Kokkinakis as the title characters

The US Open tweeted the above image - a tribute to the Rick and Morty cartoon series, but featuring Kyrgios and Kokkinakis as the title characters

The US Open tweeted the above image – a tribute to the Rick and Morty cartoon series, but featuring Kyrgios and Kokkinakis as the title characters

The US Open posted on its Twitter page a hilarious depiction of Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, but stylized like the hit cartoon series Rick and Morty – with Kokkinakis as the much smaller character Morty, who is usually abused and made fun of by his Uncle Rick.

The caption read: ‘Singles opponents one day, doubles partners the next. More classic Nick and Thanasi adventures!’

Kokkinakis retweeted it, saying, “Get me dirty @usopen” accompanied by smiling emojis.

Kyrgios says Kokkinakis is one of the rivals on tour with whom he wouldn’t “cross the line” on the track because of their friendship.

But Kokkinakis says he understands what lies behind Kyrgios’ often explosive attitude.

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios are close friends and doubles partners - pictured above during the Atlanta Open final in July 2022

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios are close friends and doubles partners - pictured above during the Atlanta Open final in July 2022

Kokkinakis and Kyrgios are close friends and doubles partners – pictured above during the Atlanta Open final in July 2022

“I’ve seen him do it with a lot of good players he’s played on tour. That’s just him. It’s what drives him and what gets the most out of his tennis,’ said Kokkinakis.

“So I have to find what works best for me on the day. “It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out, whether we come out a little flat or if the energy is intense. “It’ll be weird. I don’t know—I honestly can’t tell how it will end.’

Kyrgios of Kokkinakis will face the winner of the all-French match between Ugo Humbert and Benjamin Bonzi in the second round.

Five compatriots from the Special Ks will also be in action on day one, including Australian men’s and women’s No. 1 Alex de Minaur and Ajla Tomljanovic, plus former quarter-finalist John Millman, Jordan Thompson and Daria Saville.

Finally injury free and ready to complete his first full Grand Slam season in seven years, Kokkinakis believes he has the weapons to beat Kyrgios in their first meeting in professional ranks.

Finally injury free and ready to complete his first full Grand Slam season in seven years, Kokkinakis believes he has the weapons to beat Kyrgios in their first meeting in professional ranks.

Finally injury free and ready to complete his first full Grand Slam season in seven years, Kokkinakis believes he has the weapons to beat Kyrgios in their first meeting in professional ranks.

AUSSIES IN ACTION ON DAY ONE US OPEN AT FLUSHING MEADOWS

(PREFIX BEN SOWING):

From 01:00 Tuesday AEST

Men’s singles, first round

18-Alex de Minaur v Filip Krajinovic (SRB)

Jordan Thompson v Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)

John Millman v Emilio Nava (US)

23-Nick Kyrgios v Thanasi Kokkinakis, about 11am

Women’s singles, first round

Ajla Tomljanovic – Karolina Muchova (CZE)

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