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Special Ks advance with style at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) – Nick Kyrgios handed over a racket as a sympathetic gift for accidentally hitting a young fan and the umpire left her chair to check on the boy’s condition.

And that was in the opening few games of the latest version of tennis played in a prized-fight atmosphere in the Australian Open men’s doubles competition.

Roared on by a capacity 5,000 spectators, Kyrgios and fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis – the team dubbed the Special Ks – beat another seeded pair to advance to the semifinals.

After entering on a wild card, the pair have made Melbourne Park’s new stadium their own cauldron. Yesterday, they fired a combined 25 aces to beat the sixth-seeded team of Tim Puetz and Michael Venus 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

“I’m not finished. I want to win this,” Kyrgios told the the crowd. “Unreal scenes. When we were young growing up, this (Melbourne Park) is where we started.”

It was the third consecutive victory against seeded teams, and Kokkinakis suggested to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley that their next match be scheduled on the same court where spectators can watch matches for the cost of a ground pass rather than a stadium ticket.

Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis. PHOTO: AP

“When we walk through the tunnel (onto court), there’s no feeling like it. We don’t want to be anywhere else, this is perfect,” he said. “Hopefully, Craig is watching and puts us out on this court.”

With Kokkinakis serving in the fourth game, Kyrgios swatted a loose ball into the court surface and the ball bounced four rows into the stand and struck a young boy in the chest.

As the momentarily shocked young fan was comforted by his mother, experienced umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore left her chair to check that he was not injured. Kyrgios trotted to his bag, grabbed a spare racket and handed it up to the boy.

The Special Ks are attracting a lot of attention. So much that the host TV broadcaster regularly crossed from coverage of the Rafael Nadal versus Denis Shapovalov quarterfinal in the main stadium to check on progress of this doubles match.

To reach the final, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis must get past third-seeded Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

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