They’re best of mates, but even Thanasi Kokkinakis can’t predict what Nick Kyrgios will deliver when he takes on Milos Raonic for a place in Wimbledon’s last 16 on Friday (9.15pm AEST).
“It’s always a circus when Nick hits the court. I like watching it because I don’t know what’ll happen next,” Kokkinakis said after teaming with Lleyton Hewitt for the first time at a grand slam to score a crazy five-set doubles win on Thursday.
Kokkinakis can understand why Kyrgios is polarising tennis fans with his flashy and, at times abrasive and downright arrogant, on-court antics.
But the teenager says he just accepts Kyrgios as “a different cat”.
Kokkinakis was late arriving for Kyrgios’s second-round win over Juan Monaco on Wednesday after finishing up a practise session with Hewitt.
“I think it was 1-all in the first set and he was down 40-love on Monaco’s serve,” Kokkinakis said.
“He saw me and he gives me a wink and he smiles at me. He’s just a different cat.
“But I find it funny to watch and I think he can have a real good shot at beating Milos.”
While Kokkinakis has been dubbed “the pin-up boy of Australian tennis” by Pat Rafter, Kyrgios has come under fire for two ugly confrontations with chair umpires in his first two rounds at the All England Club.
But right or wrong, Kokkinakis says that’s just Nick Kyrgios to him.
“I see it a little bit differently. Obviously he does say some stuff which a few people take as a bit disrespectful,” Kokkinakis said.
“But I’ve known him for so long so I’m kind of used to everything that he’s doing and the way he acts, so it’s nothing too new to me.”
Hewitt says now is not the time to pass judgment on Kyrgios’s behaviour as he prepares for one of the biggest matches of his career.
Australia’s Davis Cup captain-in-waiting just accepts that Kyrgios, 20, Kokkinakis, 19, and Bernard Tomic, 22, are all different personalities – but most importantly huge talents in their own special way.
“I got to know Nick a lot better when we played the Asian League at the end of last year together and we got to play some doubles sets together and we spent a lot of time travelling there,” Hewitt said.
“As Thanasi said, he’s a different guy. But the biggest thing about the three young guys that we have now is that they all handle pressure and expectation differently.
“They all thrive on getting out there on the big courts and playing well under pressure.
“And since me, the next batch of guys would really struggle with those guys that would go out and handle that, but these three guys can.
“So as much as Nick is different and he does things his way, he is still able to get the result most of the time.”