Aussie wildcards Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler play for a spot in the Australian Open 2023 men’s doubles final today.
Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler are proving breakout stars at Australian Open 2023.
The Aussie wildcards, who had never played together before this tournament, have made a giant-killing run through the men’s doubles draw. They have eliminated five top-20 players, two seeded teams and even saved a match point to advance to today’s semifinals.
These efforts are inspiring fans of all ages, which fills 29-year-old Kubler and 21-year-old Hijikata with immense pride.
“That’s unbelievable to hear. Obviously we’re trying to do the best we can,” said Kubler, a former world No.1-ranked junior who has overcome numerous injury setbacks throughout his career.
“If we can inspire anyone to play this great sport of tennis, that’s wonderful. We’re trying our best and hopefully you guys are enjoying it all.”
Kubler, currently ranked No. 163 in doubles, is competing in a Grand Slam doubles draw for only the third time in his career. While for world No.277 Hijikata, this is his second major appearance and just his third tour-level doubles tournament.
“We’re still just winging it,” said Hijikata.
It is a stark contrast to their opponents today, the experienced world No.16 Marcel Granollers and world No.14 Horacio Zeballos.
Granollers, a 36-year-old Spaniard with a career-high ranking of No. 4, and Zeballos, a 37-year-old Argentine and former world No. 3, have won seven ATP titles as a combination. They claimed their first together in 2019 and are aiming to reach their third Grand Slam final as a team.
“We play two guys who are well established in the doubles world and they’ve both had great singles careers as well,” Kubler acknowledged.
“They’re definitely dangerous and they’re definitely one of the best teams going at the moment.”
Hijikata and Kubler are among seven Aussie players scheduled to compete on day 11 at Melbourne Park.
Aussies in action:
[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Jason Kubler (AUS) v  Marcel Granollers (ESP)/Horacio Zeballos (ARG)
Men’s doubles, semifinals, Rod Laver Arena, day session, third match (not before 2.30pm AEDT)
Hijikata and Kubler are aiming to become only the sixth all-Australian team to reach an Australian Open men’s doubles final in Melbourne Park’s 35-year history. Granollers and Zeballos, who are competing in a second consecutive Australian Open semifinal, stand in their way. The eighth seeds lost at this stage last year to Aussie wildcards, and eventual champions, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios.
[WC] Cooper Errey (AUS)/Marcus Schoeman (AUS) v Federico Cina (ITA)/Kevin Edengren (SWE)
Boys’ doubles, quarterfinals, Court 5, third match
Errey, a 17-year-old Victorian, and Schoeman, a 17-year-old from Queensland, won the 18/u Australian Championships at Melbourne Park last month and have continued that impressive form to reach the quarterfinals in their Grand Slam debut. “Just being out here is the best thing,” said world No. 194 Schoeman. The Aussie wildcards face world No.30 Cina, a 15-year-old Italian, and world No.29 Edengren, a 17-year-old Swede.
[WC] Roisin Gilheany (AUS)/Stefani Webb (AUS) v  Hayu Kinoshita (JPN)/Sara Saito (JPN)
Girls’ doubles, quarterfinals, Court 8, third match
Gilheany, a 17-year-old Victorian ranked No.156, and Webb, a 17-year-old Victorian ranked No.188, are enjoying a memorable run at their home Grand Slam. The Aussie wildcards are through to the quarterfinals, where they face a fourth-seeded Japanese duo. Kinoshita is a 16-year-old ranked No.29, while Saito is a 16-year-old ranked No.5. Webb scored a stunning singles win against top-seeded Saito earlier in the tournament.
Mark Philippoussis (AUS)/Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) v Tommy Haas (GER)/Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Legends’ doubles, Margaret Court Arena, first match (from 11am AEDT)
Australian tennis legend Philippoussis, a former world No. 8 and a two-time Grand Slam finalist, is back in the legends’ doubles event. The 46-year-old is partnering Baghdatis, a 37-year-old Cypriot who memorably made the AO 2006 singles final. They play Haas, a former world No. 2 and three-time Australian Open semifinalist, and Stepanek, a former top-10 star in both singles and doubles.
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