In reality, the racket was coming from an Australian Open males’s doubles quarterfinal. The headline act? ‘Special Ok,’ in any other case referred to as Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
The Australian wildcard duo have whipped followers right into a frenzy all through their unlikely journey into the semifinals of their dwelling grand slam, peaking with a raucous 7-5 3-6 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Tim Puetz and Michael Venus at a packed Kia Arena on Tuesday.
Arguably doubles has an ungainly place in the tennis world — with singles occasions persistently taking priority in each prize cash and protection — which makes the consideration and adulation that the duo are garnering all the extra spectacular.
Yet for Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, their relationship with the crowd is a symbiotic one, and kinds the crux of their motivation to carry out.
“This Australian Open, honestly for us, it’s more about the people — playing for them is more important than our doubles success, Kyrgios said.
“We have not drawn up any objectives of what we wanna obtain this 12 months in doubles, I simply wanna play and give the individuals of Australia and the Australian Open a present and genuinely strive and develop the sport of tennis.
“That’s why I’m playing, and I know Thanasi is just enjoying it — this is the most fun we’ve ever had on the court.
“The thrill for us is actually strolling on the market. This sounds silly however we fear what occurs in the match after,” Kokkinakis added.
“Seeing the assist we have got and then the crowd going nuts each time we go on the market and how a lot they’re having fun with it, that will get us going and will get us motivated to do higher for them.”
Tears and cheers
A perfect encapsulation of the pair’s connection with the Melbourne crowd — as well as Kyrgios’ enigmatic personality — came early in the first set of the quarterfinal when the 26-year-old ferociously lashed a returning dead ball into the crowd after a let serve.
The ball struck a child, bringing him to tears, with a mortified Kyrgios covering his mouth in shock.
After a brief chat with Kokkinakis, Kyrgios jogged over to the stand to hand over a token of apology to a boy who — though admittedly still a little watery-eyed — now brandished a smile, a new racket, and a monster of a story to share at school.
The subsequent warm ripple of applause from the crowd was a response the oft-dubbed ‘bad boy of tennis’ has not always received.
Yet this doubles run seems to have actually fired up Kyrgios and there could be little doubt which aspect of “love-hate” this year’s crowd falls on — especially the swathe of young fans that have packed into the duo’s games at Melbourne Park.
“There’s no method round it, me and Thanasi are undoubtedly position fashions to the youth in Australia, we clearly appeal to that crowd,” Kyrgios said.
“I do know that over the years i have not been the finest position mannequin however I used to be simply studying learn how to cope with every thing and i believe now at 26 i’ve matured and I undoubtedly realized that loads of younger children and individuals — even those who are low on confidence — they do look in direction of us once we go on the market.
“We’re not special people, we’re normal humans that you might see walking in Australia … I think we’re just relatable, that’s what’s the best thing about it.”
For the 26-year-old Krygios, distinction is the key phrase to his place in the sport.
“Tennis has always had personalities, I’ve said this before but I think they just struggled to understand that there are different ways to go about it.
“You’ve bought Roger Federer and these guys that are simply as soon as in a technology athletes — I can not be like that, we’re not like that, there needs to be those who are just a little extra relatable.”
Ability apart, Krygios and Kokkinakis are placing on a as soon as in a technology spectacle at the Australian Open — simply spare a thought for Melbourne’s lovers of peace and quiet ought to they go all the method.