Nick Kyrgios practises on Wednesday.

Nick Kyrgios practises on Wednesday. Photo: Joe Armao

Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis have had the good fortune to have arrived more or less in unison, which means that, unlike Lleyton Hewitt and the beleaguered Bernard Tomic, they will be sharing the considerable weight of a tennis nation that - like Britain after the Second World War - has struggled with its diminished station.

But within the long-frustrated Australian tennis establishment, there's a confidence that the ''Special Ks'' truly are, if not Bruce McAvaney special, then serious players. That the pair had first-round wins, despite physical ailments, on the same eventful Tuesday when Tomic forfeited both his match and public sympathy, and Hewitt sank after a typical five-set fight, was irresistible symbolism.

On Thursday, Kokkinakis faces the same Himalayan challenge that confronted Tomic - Rafael Nadal. No one expects him even to take a set. But the fact that he's there - in the second round, where few Australians reside - is quite an achievement for a 17-year-old. Kyrgios, likewise, has exceeded the typical fate of a teenage (18-year-old) wildcard by winning his first match against Benjamin Becker, ranked 81, and setting up a Thursday encounter with the 27th seed, Benoit Paire, of France. Kokkinakis overcame Igor Sijsling, of the Netherlands.

Thanasi Kokkinakis will face Rafael Nadal on Thursday.

Thanasi Kokkinakis will face Rafael Nadal on Thursday. Photo: Pat Scala

John Newcombe is among the former champions who have put the joint stamps of approval/expectation on Kyrgios and Kokkinakis. As doubles partners, with shared Greek heritage and a love of basketball, they have a close friendship and what Kyrgios' coach, Simon Rea, says is a healthy competitive tension.

They're over 190centimetres, and rangy, with the advantages that height confers, such as an ability to serve at speed. Kyrgios, winner of the juniors here last year, is perhaps a tad stronger now, consistently mustering 200-210 km/h on his first service.

Anyone who saw them succeed on the furnace of showcourt three on Tuesday would view the Special Ks as the tennis version of AFL first-round draft picks - tall, supple athletes, who strike the ball nicely on both wings and have an idea of how to play a point.

''I was very impressed with what they did [on Tuesday],'' said Newcombe, who watched them in juniors and is ''more convinced than ever that they're for real''.

''I think they're genuine top-20 and maybe top-10 material,'' he added.

''If they stay injury-free and have the right people around them for the next 18 months, they're going to be well into the top 50. They've got all the guns and they proved yesterday they've got the right attitude, they're not afraid.''

As the stalling of Tomic's progress showed, it is the player's mettle - his willingness to compete, train and eschew distractions - that shapes ranking destiny.

We won't know for a while how this pair measure up above the shoulders, but the signs are cause for optimism.

Rea, who is coaching Kyrgios one-on-one under Tennis Australia's new coaching regime, called his pupil ''incredibly driven'' and ''hugely competitive'', with ''a big personality'' and belief in his ability.

Kyrgios and Rea have identified physicality - the teen has had a sore shoulder - and net play as areas needing work, adding: ''There's some things Nick and I have identified in the way he goes about things from a mentality perspective that we both agree he can be better at.

''If he can take care of … things on a daily basis, the ranking gains will take care of themselves.''

The same applies to Kokkinakis, who as Newk suggested, wasn't afraid of the moment on showcourt three. When other Australians faltered, the Ks seized it. ''We're all incredibly excited about what may lie in wait for them,'' said Rea. ''But also understand the long journey that's ahead and we hope there's another crop of youngsters not far behind them.''