WATCH: Meet Rinky Hijikata and the rising stars in Melbourne on The Break


Spare a thought for Thanasi Kokkinakis. The 26-year-old, once ranked as high as No. 69, is slowly making his way back up the ATP Rankings after years of being sidelined by myriad injuries. And on Wednesday, he closed out Fabio Fognini with a commanding 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 score to reach the Australian Open second round for just the fourth time in his career.

But Kokkinakis’ comeback and confident start to the season are being overshadowed by all the attention on countryman Nick Kyrgios—even after he pulled out of the tournament due to injury.

The pair teamed up to win the Australian Open men’s doubles title last year, a run that was depicted on Episode 1 of the new Netflix tennis docuseries ‘Break Point’. But even when the biggest moment of his career unfolded on screen, Kokkinakis was introduced simply as “Nick’s Doubles Partner”.

Now it’s happened again, this time in the Melbourne Park press room—and on January 18th, Thanasi’s Greek name day, no less:

Q. Hi, Nick.


“That’s a firing… that’s you done,” Kokkinakis replied amid laughter, as the journalist tried to explain himself. “Nope, I’m going to can that.”

But once the journalist replied in Greek, Kokkinakis was quickly mollified. With Melbourne’s large Greek community adopting Kokkinakis as their Aussie Open favorite after Kyrgios’ withdrawal, the world No. 159 took things in stride as he thanked them for their support.

Efharisto. That's all I can say. Thank you for coming out and supporting,” Kokkinakis said. “I love the Greek support here. It's good. I get the best of both worlds being in Australia. A lot of Greek population, especially in Melbourne. I'm super happy when they come out and support me.

“Aussies, Greeks, anyone else, if they want to support me, I'm all for it. It's great having their support, and hopefully I can keep riding the wave.”

Kokkinakis, who recorded his first Top 10 win in five years with an upset over Andrey Rublev last week in Adelaide, will face three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray on Thursday.

Let’s hope the crowd knows who they are rooting for by then.