‘I genuinely feel I can win the Australian Open’

So, can Kyrgios go one better this year by becoming the first Australian to win in Melbourne since Mark Edmundson, one of the great outsiders, in 1976? “Well, I am one of the best players in the world,” he replied, with his usual self-assurance. “I’m definitely going to go into the Australian Open with confidence. I feel like I’ve proven that I can go deep into a grand slam.

“I’ve always been pretty good,” Kyrgios added. “You know, I was the No 1 junior in the world. I transitioned pretty early. But I just feel like I’m so consistent. That was the main thing [last season], being able to put it in week-in, week-out, with dedication in practice sessions. Just ticking all the boxes. So hopefully the consistency stays there this year.”

As if to underline the seriousness of his approach, Kyrgios, who is 27, said that he and Kokkinakis would probably abandon their defence of their doubles crown if one of them should still be involved in the singles by the second week.

“We are singles players at heart,” he said. “The doubles grand slam last year was just a flash in the pan, how we were able to do that. We haven’t had one conversation about doubles yet, about how we are going to approach it or anything. We’re just going to go into it, have some fun and if we play, we play. If we don’t, we don’t.”

Kyrgios’s draw was confirmed on Thursday, and it looks comfortable enough at first, with world No 98 Roman Safiullin the first man in the firing line. Things could get a little spicy in the third round if he should happen to play Holger Rune – the Danish 19-year-old who is one of the feistiest young thrusters on the circuit.

In the meantime, Kyrgios is due to face Djokovic on Friday night in one of the Australian Open’s latest innovations: pre-tournament practice matches played in front of fans who have paid A$10 per head. The only question is whether Djokovic will be happy to stretch himself after a couple of recent niggles in his left leg.

“I haven’t heard anything else,” said Kyrgios, when asked about the injury concern. “Novak has played a lot of tennis over his career, so he knows how his body needs to be feeling moving forward. I wouldn’t have any doubt. I would still say Novak is a clear favourite [to win the tournament next week].”

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