Australian Star Thanasi Kokkinakis Reminisces How Lakers Legend Kobe Bryant’s Supposed Presence Got Him Excited for His Match-Up Against Rafael Nadal

Published 08/30/2022, 4:28 PM EDT

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios got off to a great start earlier this year. They won the doubles title at the Australian Open. Yesterday, both players faced each other in the opening round of the US Open. Before his first round match, Kokkinakis recalled his 2019 match against Rafael Nadal and how he thought about playing in front of basketball legend Kobe Bryant. 

When the draw was released, childhood friends Kyrgios and Kokkinakis were pitted against each other in the first round of the US Open 2022. Although he lost against Kyrgios, he battled hard throughout the match and gave a tough challenge to his friend and doubles partner. 

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Thanasi Kokkinakis recalls a cherished memory 

Before his US Open singles match this year, in an interview, Kokkinakis recalled a memory from 2019, when he put up a strong fight to win his first-round match in New York. That was his first triumph in a major event in more than four years and it set up a second round clash with Rafael Nadal. Unfortunately, he tore his pectoral muscle and had to withdraw from the match.

He said, while recalling his 2019 US Open, “I worked so hard. I had six or seven months off after Australia, because I tore my pec coming back and played such a good match in my first round in New York to play Rafa and to get a scan after the first round and realise I already tore it. I was in tears after that, and I couldn’t play.”

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Thanasi Kokkinakis is a big Kobe Bryant fan, and he wanted to perform at his best in front of him. Further, he added, “I heard there was a chance Kobe Bryant was coming to that match as well, which is all the more crazy now right? But I’m happy with how I fought and my resilience.”

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Kyrgios and Kokkinakis to play doubles

The ‘Special K’s,’ as the Australian media refers to them, are scheduled to play doubles at the US Open. This year, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have been in excellent form in doubles, winning the doubles championship at the Australian Open and Atlanta. In Miami, they also advanced to the semifinals but fell to Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner.

Both players have triumphed in singles tournaments as well, Kyrgios in Washington, D.C., and Kokkinakis in Adelaide. Coming to New York, Kyrgios, the 25th-ranked player, has won 10 of his last 12 matches on hard courts in North America. Kokkinakis, who is now ranked 70th in the world, has a 1-3 record during this time.

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Watch this story – Nick Kyrgios’ uncontrollable rant at the chair umpire in the Miami Open 2022

In the US Open, Kyrgios defeated Kokkinakis 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to advance to the second round at Flushing Meadows. For a spot in the third round, he will compete against Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.

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Pratishtha Prakash

588 articles

Pratishtha Prakash is a Tennis Writer at EssentiallySports. She has completed her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media and Journalism from MIT ADT University, Pune. Being a sports enthusiast, she has a keen interest in tennis, cricket and esports.

Edited By: Tony Thomas

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