‘Pressure’s on them’: Ebden, Purcell happy to see spotlight on Special K’s

Max Purcell and Matt Ebden have heaped the pressure on Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis’s pursuit of a maiden grand slam doubles title, but aren’t so sure they’re the underdogs in the first all-Australian, Australian Open men’s doubles final in 42 years.

While Kyrgios and Kokkinakis have played in front of raucous crowds all week, Purcell and Ebden have quietly gone about their business.

Their semi-final win – played next door at Margaret Court Arena – had no more than 100 spectators in the stands.

Ebden and Purcell are the more experienced doubles pair, but believe the weight of public expectation will see the pressure heaped on the “Special K’s”.

“Let’s look at it. They have higher singles rankings right now. We have higher doubles rankings. They had big crowd support. We did also yesterday. [But] the pressure is on them for sure,” Ebden said.

“They’ve had pressure on them their whole lives. It’s nice to see them doing well. Thanasi winning his singles match, them getting through this tournament to the finals. It’s great.”

While Purcell was happy for Kyrgios and Kokkinakis to have the spotlight, he doesn’t believe they should necessarily be considered favourites ahead of Saturday night’s final.

“They’re playing big-time singles out there. We’re bringing a bit more doubles to the court,” he said.

“They’re not looking to beat us at our game. We’re not looking to beat them at their game. It’s not like there – there’s no A and B, I feel like.

“They’re better at their game. We’re better at our game. I don’t feel there’s any underdog.”

The pressure may be on Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, but the pair have lost one of the brains behind their run to the final – Ebden.

The veteran doubles player has been helping prepare Kokkinakis with intel on their opponents before each match.

“Yeah, I’ve been talking to Thanasi these last few matches trying to help him beat the guys he’s been beating actually,” Purcell said.

“He’s been asking how his opponents play. We know obviously know some of the doubles guys pretty well.

“Today, I didn’t really know their opponents that well, to be honest. Couldn’t help him that much. [But we were] wanting them to win, so we could all win, playoff in the final. That’s what we got.”

There’s also no hint of bad blood between the quartet, who have been on tour together for several years.

“We already just spoke to them, congratulated them. They congratulated us. It’s awesome to have two Aussie teams playing off in the final,” Ebden said.

“What could be better, really? Yeah, from my side, our side, no different.

“They’ve obviously got great serves, great players. Whoever we face, them or the opponents, same as today, same as last match. It’s no real difference. Another match, another chance.

“We’re obviously going to go for it. We want to win as many slams as we can. There’s a good chance starting Saturday night.

“These are the big matches you play for, what you want. This is why I want to play, to play in grand slam finals.”

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