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Hijikata, Kubler charge into AO 2023 doubles final

  • Leigh Rogers

The fairytale run continues for Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler at Australian Open 2023.

The Aussie wildcards, who are teaming up for the first time at this tournament, have earned their place in the men’s doubles final.

The 21-year-old Hijikata and 29-year-old Kubler recorded a remarkable 6-4 6-2 semifinal victory today against eighth seeds Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina at Rod Laver Arena.

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“This is the first time I’ve played during the day on Rod Laver Arena, so I was, to be honest, a little bit nervous coming out,” Kubler said.

“But then as soon as our energy starts going, I’m not even thinking anymore. I’m just swinging.”

Rinky Hijikata (R) and Jason Kubler celebrate their AO 2023 men's doubles semifinal victory over Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

The Aussies produced another near flawless display on serve, not being broken and conceding just 14 points in total across their service games, in the 82-minute encounter.

Playing with freedom and exuberant energy, the Aussie duo prevented world No.14 Zeballos and world No.16 Granollers from progressing to their third Grand Slam final as a team.

“Who would have thought?” Kubler said. “We both returned unbelievable I thought.”

World No.277 Hijikata and world No.163 Kubler have now beaten three seeded teams and eliminated seven top 20-ranked opponents, as well as saving a match point, during their giant-killing run at Australian Open 2023.

“I’m just trying to soak it all in. I just can’t really believe it, to be honest,” said Hijikata.

Jason Kubler (L) and Rinky Hijikata chat to the press after their AO 2023 men's doubles semifinal victory.

This effort makes Hijikata, from New South Wales, and Kubler, from Queensland, only the sixth all-Australian team to reach an Australian Open men’s doubles final in Melbourne Park’s 35-year history.

The Australian Open 2023 men’s doubles final will be played on Saturday night, following the women’s singles final.

The Aussies face world No.40 Nys, a 31-year-old from Monaco, and world No.36 Zielinski, a 26-year-old from Poland, for the title.

Jason Kubler (L) and Rinky Hijikata (R) celebrate with former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt after their men's doubles semifinal victory at AO 2023.

“It’s a special moment for the both of us,” Kubler said. “Obviously we want to win, but regardless how it goes, this has been special. I’m definitely not going to be forgetting this. I don’t think Rinky will be either.

“Hopefully we can just keep riding the momentum we have created and see how it goes on Saturday.”

Hijikata and Kubler are aiming to become just the second wildcards to win an Australian Open men’s doubles title.

Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios were the first to achieve this feat last summer.

All-Aussie men's doubles finalists at Melbourne Park
Team Year
Darren Cahill/Mark Kratzmann 1989
Todd Woodbridge/Mark Woodforde 1992, 1997, 1998
Max Purcell/Luke Saville 2020
Nick Kyrgios/Thanasi Kokkinakis 2022
Matt Ebden/Max Purcell 2022
Rinky Hijikata/Jason Kubler 2023