Thanasi Kokkinakis promises he’s not two-timing his buddy – but he’s enjoying his new doubles fling at the French Open with a crazy partner who’s even more ‘flarey’ than Nick Kyrgios.
The ‘Special Ks’ have taken a grand slam break after their scene-stealing Australian Open triumph, with Kyrgios deciding to give the clay-court grind a miss.
But in the absence of his volatile buddy, Kokkinakis has teamed up with Alexander Bublik, who Kyrgios has previously predicted would eventually follow him as the sport’s most unpredictable and entertaining showman.
Watch the latest sport on Channel 7 or stream for free on 7plus >>
Although it’s so far going swimmingly, with the new pair already having edged through the first round of the doubles at Roland Garros, Kokkinakis promises he and Kyrgios will still recommence their doubles bromance amid Wimbledon’s strawberries and chill.
“He (Bublik) came up to me and asked me. And I was like, ‘yeah, I don’t think Nick’s playing the French, let’s do it’,” smiled Kokkinakis.
“I had no-one else, and I’d be a bit dog if I said no!”
Kyrgios may be itching to learn how his mate’s getting on without him and with this new doppelganger.
“I got a missed FaceTime call from Nick at 2am the other night! That kind of killed me … I don’t know what it was about. I actually didn’t call him back,” smiled Kokkinakis.
Kyrgios has often enthused about Bublik, an underarm-serving, monster ace-delivering, outspoken customer who once said that he hated tennis.
Er, who does that sound like?
And Kokkinakis, who’s looking for a good run in the doubles after his first-round exit to Albert Ramos-Vinolas, can see the similarities with “the big fella”.
“Different partner, kind of similar, but different,” he says of Bublik.
“We’re not expecting much. It’s a bit shaky at times, but it’s fun. Who knows? It’s a bonus. If we win, great; if I lose, I’m on the grass.”
The similarities? “He (Bublik) pulled out an underarm serve, one of the best I’ve ever seen actually. He also hit a shocker.
“Both obviously are really flarey, both real big first serves.
“It sounds crazy, but Nick’s actually a little bit more focused! Maybe that’s because we played in Australia.
“Believe it or not, Nick actually dials in as much as I’ve ever seen. Alex is a bit hot and cold, a real talented player, so we’ll see what happens.”
Referring to the 24-year-old Kazakh, Kyrgios recently told the New York Times that it was “good to see another guy like that kind of take my place, when I do eventually go.
“‘Thank God Kyrgios is gone? You’re going to have to deal with Bublik now. That’s just the way it’s going to be.”
Meanwhile, Kokkinakis could offer little but a sigh of faint amusement when asked about the latest social media spat between Kyrgios and his old sparring partner Bernard Tomic.
“I dunno, it’s a bit of a mess between those two but I’ll let ’em figure it out – I don’t think it’s that serious,” he said.
“I honestly don’t think they care that much, it’s just something to do.”