Australian Open Doubles Odds & Best Bet: Will Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis Win Again?
Future Publishing/Getty. Pictured: Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios talk strategy before a point in their quarterfinals doubles match at the Australian Open.
Kyrgios/Kokkinakis vs. Zeballos/Granollers
|Time | TV||10:30 p.m. ET | ESPN+|
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One of the most fascinating stories of the Australian Open is the success that the doubles team of Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis has had.
The Aussie pair are both better known for their singles, and Kyrgios in particular is known for his antics on the court. However, the two have buckled down and gotten to the semis, where they will face the experienced team of Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers.
The Argentinian and Spanish duo have established themselves as one of the most reliable doubles teams in the world over the past three years, winning six titles and reaching two Grand Slam finals, but the pair are yet to get over the Major title hump.
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis are certainly not doubles specialists like their opponents, with this being their fourth Tour-level event played together. Nonetheless, both have experience in doubles and they have the hand skills and service abilities to be a high-level team, as evidenced by this run.
They haven’t found their success with standard run of the mill doubles play, but rather with energy and an eye towards entertainment.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2022
In doing so, they’ve made doubles get a packed arena for three consecutive rounds, something that would be unheard of if not for the unique team.
In typical Nick Kyrgios style, that hasn’t come without some drama. After a win against the number one seeded pair of Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic, the team’s trainer accosted the Aussie pair in the locker room due to supposedly broken unwritten rules.
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 21, 2022
After beating Tim Putz and Michael Venus in another heated match, the latter ranted about Kyrgios being an, “absolute knob,” adding that he understands why Kyrgios hasn’t been able to fulfill his career potential.
Granollers and Zeballos haven’t dropped a set all tournament, but they were heavy favorites in all but their quarterfinal match against John Peers and Filip Polasek, where they impressively disposed of the Indian Wells and Sydney International champions in two sets.
How will this contrast in style play out?
This match is appropriately labeled near a pick ’em, as it’s extremely hard to separate the two on paper, despite the vast contrast in approaches the two teams have.
In terms of pure doubles strategy and technique, the edge goes to Granollers and Zeballos, who have done this on a big stage for years. Their movement is more reflective of an efficient doubles team, and that will be a big weapon for the team.
Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have the edge in generating free points off of serve. The duo have hit 76 aces thus far, while Granollers and Zeballos have hit 10. Again, this is partly due to the style of doubles that each team plays, but it will certainly be of use to the Aussies.
Crucially, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have kept their first serve percentage above 60 in each match, making it extremely hard to break the pair when facing so many first serves in each game. Their opponents haven’t had a match below 69 percent first serve rate, and they’ll have to keep it in that 70-80 percent range to avoid Kokkinakis and Kyrgios teeing off on second serves.
When rallies occur, the edge again goes to the Aussies, who have far more explosive ground strokes, as expected. Nonetheless, the experienced doubles team will look to keep points short with frequent movement at the net to try and draw errors or easy volleys. They won’t win by playing extended rallies.
Ultimately, I have to side with Kyrgios and Kokkinakis here. While this match projects to be incredibly tight on paper, the duo have generated 3.1 break points per set against some of the best doubles teams in the world. Granollers and Zeballos have amassed 3.375/set, but they’ve played just one elite doubles team.
As long as the nerves don’t get to Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, I could see them creating enough pressure on return to overwhelm Granollers and Zeballos. The Aussies converted 35 percent of their break point chances throughout the tournament, and if that number can hold, they’re in good shape.
I’ll back Kyrgios and Kokkinakis to create a must-watch final.
Pick: Kyrgios/Kokkinakis -105