Junior duo Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis have set up a mouthwatering all-Australian boys’ singles finale at the Australian Open after blazing through their semifinals on Friday.
The last time two locals played off for the Australian Open boys’ title was back in 1994, when Ben Ellwood defeated Andrew Ilie.
Kyrgios tipped the pair would play off for the championship after his third round win, and his prediction came to fruition, both boys thumping their opponents on Margaret Court Arena in style.
Kyrgios – the newest ITF world No.1 and third seed at the Australian Open junior championships – set the tone quickly after blasting eighth-seeded Italian opponent Filippo Baldi 6-2 6-1.
It was a masterful serving display from the 17-year-old ACT native, who nailed nine aces for the match with zero double faults. Kyrgios needed a mere 41 minutes to get the job done, including a 17-minute clinic in the second set.
“Obviously I’m really stoked with that performance today, I knew Baldi has been playing some pretty good tennis to make it to the semifinal and I knew I had to stick to my game plan,” Kyrgios said.
It has been a phenomenal tournament for the third seed, who is yet to drop a set or play a match lasting longer than an hour. His biggest challenge to date has come from fellow Australian Omar Jasika in the third round – Kyrgios winning 6-4 6-3 in 53 minutes.
“I like to come out strong, show a bit of fire in the first couple of games, show them that I’m there and that I’m going be tough to beat,” Kyrgios said.
“Obviously (with) the No.1 ranking, (my opponents) are going to be thinking about that a little bit as well. So if I show that I’m really there and going to compete the whole time I think they might go away a little bit and I’ll just take the advantage.”
As for 16-year-old Kokkinakis, his 6-3 6-2 win over 11th-seeded Croatian Borna Coric wasn’t as dominant as his compatriot, but it was just as impressive.
With former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic watching on, Coric pushed the Australian but was let down by his inconsistency, particularly off the return. A majority of the points were fought from the baseline, both boys trying to push one another out of court position before sealing it with a winner down the line.
But it was Kokkinakis who proved too classy, breaking at key moments and coming up with the big points.
The boys’ final is set to be one full of intrigue, not only due to the pair’s strong friendship but also because of their history – while Kyrgios holds a 2-0 head-to-head lead, both matches have gone to three sets. Their most recent meeting was at the Optus 18s Championships in December, Kyrgios winning 6-4 4-6 6-4.
Meanwhile, Australian duo Jay Andrijic and Bradley Mousley took out the junior boys' doubles crown on Friday evening, downing Germany's Maximilian Marterer and Austrian Lucas Miedler 6-3 7-6(3). The pair progressed through a handful of close matches throughout their draw but stayed strong to come away grand slam champions.
“It’s definitely a career highlight for me, and I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life,” Andrijic said.
“We were pretty confident (coming into the tournament), confident in our game in doubles and confident in each other, which is a big key factor.
“It’s always nice playing in front of your home crowd, and it’s lucky we have a grand slam here which is always one of the biggest tournaments.”
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the pair, however, with Mousley injuring his foot the day before the singles draw. But, determined not to let his partner down, the 17-year-old refused to pull out.
“Yeah, lucky he didn't,” Andrijic laughed.
Saturday’s all-Australian boys’ singles final, on Australia Day, will start not before 2.30pm, and will be broadcast live on Channel 7.
The girls’ final, between third seed Ana Konjuh of Croatia and second-seeded Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, will start the day session at Rod Laver Arena at 12.30pm.