TOMIC, Kyrgios, Kokkinakis – sounds like an NSL midfield from the 1980s.
But alas, no, this is the future of tennis, a future actually bright and full of promise unlike the previous five to ten years of relying on a South Australian jockey who has been more resistant to retirement than Hugh Hefner.
Our boys, Bernie, Nick, and well, if someone has a better nickname than simply ‘the Kokk’ please share, have not just got that bit of spunk and character that we like in our sportsmen, but incredibly have the talent and tennis game to actually do what Mark Philippoussis couldn’t do, ie. be talented and actually win something.
All three are 22 years old (Tomic) or under (Kyrgios 20, Kokkinakis 19), the two older ones are in the world top 25 after their French Open campaigns and young Thanasi is following suit by now reaching the top 70 as a teenager with a bullet.
Tomic has beaten Novak Djokovic and made two Grand Slam quarterfinals already, Kyrgios has beaten Rafael Nadal and too made a couple Grand Slam quarterfinals, Kokkinakis, again, you feel will be just as accomplished at the same stage after defeating the 11th seed at the Australian Open this year and then Tomic just last week in Paris.
Kyrgios brings a showmanship and haircut that makes Billy Idol look like Susan Boyle
They are that good, they are as a good as Clive Palmer at Sizzler and are as cool about it as a Jamaican cucumber.
They’re naturals to the spotlight, Tomic enjoys the Gold Coast, he enjoys schoolies (even though he would have been the class of 2010), Kyrgios brings a showmanship and haircut that makes Billy Idol look like Susan Boyle and Kokkinakis combines boyish good lucks and an over-complicated name, just the thing to attract the One Direction market.
Quite seriously there’s always been an Aussie champ, we’ve always had the Pat Cash, Pat Rafter types, then of course the Scud and of more recent times little Lleyton Hewitt.
Somehow, before tennis woke up to itself, Hewitt was the no.1 player in the world in 2001. One can’t be sure how someone barely higher than the net managed that, perhaps he was paying FIFA to smudge the numbers or something.
But since the demise of Hewitt, who remains gutsy one must be honest, Australian tennis has looked in despair, even Delta Goodrem’s career showed more prosperity.
“Be patient” they said from the corridors of Tennis Australia, “we will get there”.
Whether they were referring to the finals week of My Kitchen Rules eventually turning up or the re-explosion of Aussie talent on the male circuit, these three lads have been a breath of fresh air.
Tomic, often maligned for his laconic attitude and weak ticker is showing signs of reform. Sure he lost in five sets to his young compatriot but the Tomic of two years ago would have probably retired hurt with a strained nostril. He isn’t there yet however someone of his immense gifts is bound to get it right, with maturity and good coaching he is going to scare the sweatbands off many.
Kyrgios, more bravado than Shane Warne stumbling upon a hen’s night, brings a beautiful mix of confidence and raw ability. The way he took apart Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon’s Centre Court last year marked his arrival on the big time and unlike other flashes in the pan before (paging Wayne Arthurs) he has all the tools necessary to secure a slam before Justin Bieber actually does something responsible.
And the young man Kokkinakis has already become a Davis Cup hero whilst still on his P plates. Coming back from two sets to love, in Prague, against at top-30 ranked Czech isn’t the greatest win he’ll ever have but goes to show the fight and mongrel in him to compete like all Australians admire.
The glorious thing is he is arguably more talented than the others with possibly a better temperament so whilst we acknowledge the feats so far of the older two’s embryonic careers to date, we may have even better feats to celebrate from the youngest of the lot.
On top of that, where the entire country, even the straightest most blokey truck drivers, fell in love with Rafter, it is fair to say we never all were united behind the little battler Hewitt. His on court demeanour plus his off-putting pursuit of Belgian lookalikes then C-grade soap stars and he never really played an Australian Open with the country’s full support.
Sure, Tomic has had a rough trot, far too many early match retirements, perennial failure to meet the nation’s lofty expectations of someone so highly rated and father issues that make Damir Dokic look like father of the year.
But he is turning it around, his straight sets win over world number-eight David Ferrer three months ago the most impressive of his career and the validation that the improvement is real, and continuing.
Tomic likes a Ferrari, Kyrgios likes to enjoy some horizontal rhumba before a match and Kokkinakis gets away with winning serious sporting matches dressed in all kinds of primary colours, these boys are like Sam Newman 60 years younger, except instead of racking up divorces they’ll be racking up the titles.
Come next year’s Australian Open all three, injuries and a big schoolies for Tomic aside, will be seeded which suggests all should make the second week and be dangerous.
For players 22 and under the top two ranked players in the world are Tomic and Kyrgios and for 20 and under Kokkinakis is ranked the second. The future is so, so bright.
Don’t worry about your Matthew Dellavedovas, your Jason Days or any other Australian nypsie doing somewhat well on the world stage at the moment.
Get on the Australian tennis bus, these three will actually bring home some silverware and do it loud and proud, right up the Europeans noses in a fluorescent outfit after probably courting their opponent’s sister the night before.
And that’s just how we like it.