Melbourne VIC, Australia, 12 January 2014 | Rob Sheeley

It’s a long way to the top. But for 17-year-old Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, the top is not as far away as people may think.

“The top guys aren’t that far away,” said Kokkinakis speaking in Melbourne today.

“By ranking it looks like they are, but when you step on court and play with them, we know our levels are pretty high when we are switched on.”

Kokkinakis and compatriot Nick Kyrgios met in the boys’ final of the 2013 Australian Open and will make their debuts in the main draw of the senior draw this week. He believes he can draw on that junior experience in Melbourne.

“It’s good just being around that Grand Slam environment, even though it was juniors.

“I’ll probably be a little bit nervous coming out, but I’m just going to focus on playing the ball and playing my game.”

Kokkinakis impressed at the Brisbane International, winning through qualifying before meeting fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the first round where he lost in straight sets.

His first round opponent is Dutch world No.73 Igor Sijsling and, despite being ranked almost 500 places ahead of Kokkinakis, the Australian is confident he can get the job done.

“I’ve beaten some good players in this past couple of weeks so that’s going to give me some confidence, especially for this first round.

“You’ve got to think that every match is winnable or otherwise you have no chance of winning.”

Kokkinakis sums up his plan of attack for his first Australian Open in a circumspect fashion.

“I’ll try and play my game. That’s what has got me to this point so I’ll keep that going and see how that works.”