Thanasi Kokkinakis has joined the growing band of believers who give Nick Kyrgios a genuine shot of winning Wimbledon, declaring his grand slam-winning doubles partner “locked in” for a serious title tilt.
Kokkinakis also revealed after Friday’s draw in London that the Australian Open champions were only committed to doubles on a match-by-match basis as Kyrgios chases singles glory at the All England Club.
A semi-finalist in Stuttgart and Halle before withdrawing from his final lead-up event in Mallorca to rest a minor abdominal strain, Kyrgios’s ominous grass-court form has captured the attention of bookmakers in the know.
Most have listed the former quarter-finalist in the top six challengers to three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic and Kokkinakis reckons that’s fair enough.
“He’s a legit contender,” Kokkinakis said. “He looks great. He looks like he’s locked in. I had a look at his draw and I really like it for him. Obviously, slams are tough but with his game and how comfortable he is on grass and how many matches he’s played, I think he can definitely make a big run here. I’m pretty confident in that.”
Kyrgios opens against British wildcard Paul Jubb on Tuesday and could face fellow Australian Jordan Thompson in the second round.
Kokkinakis says seeing off the 219th-ranked Jubb and either Thompson, himself in nice grass-court touch, or Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena as efficiently as possible is vital to his title prospects.
“There are a lot of good players out there, especially it being over five sets. There’s a lot of things that can happen over five sets,” he said. “It’s tough to put people away in straight sets and the hardest thing is backing up matches after matches.
“But the key thing for him is if he can get it done fairly comfortably, especially in his earlier rounds, I think that sets him up really well.”
Kyrgios raised eyebrows last month when he declared himself the world’s premier grass-court exponent and even countryman John Millman is challenging the mercurial talent to walk the talk.
“He’s said he’s the best player on grass in the world, so the best outcome would be for him to win it … yeah, just quoting him,” Millman said on Friday.
Kyrgios’s first projected seeded opponent is world No 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas in round three. The 27-year-old is unbeaten in three tour outings against the Greek ace.
Australian No 1 Alex de Minaur will also open his campaign on Tuesday against Hugo Dellien and could potentially strike eighth seed Matteo Berrettini, last year’s runner-up, in the third round.
Playing his first Wimbledon since 2017, Kokkinakis starts on Monday against Kamil Majchrzak, hoping his career renaissance after years of wretched injuries will culminate in a second-round blockbuster with champion Djokovic.
Like Kyrgios, Australian women’s No 1 Ajla Tomljanovic doesn’t play until Tuesday. A quarter-final victim of Ash Barty last year, Tomljanovic has a testing opener against Swiss Jil Teichmann, the 18th seed.
AUSTRALIANS IN ACTION AT WIMBLEDON ON MONDAY (PREFIX DENOTES SEEDING):
Women’s singles, first round
Zoe Hives v 5-Maria Sakkari (GRE)
Daria Saville v Viktoriya Tomova (BUL)
Astra Sharma v Tatjana Maria (GER)
Madison Inglis v Dalma Galfi (HUN)
Men’s singles, first round
Thanasi Kokkinakis v Kamil Majchrzak (POL)
John Millman v Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
James Duckworth v Andy Murray (GBR)
Max Purcell v Adrian Mannarino (FRA)