Un-named Aussies shock world No.1 doubles pair
Awarded a wildcard for the men’s doubles competition at this year’s Australian Open, locals Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata still have grand slam success in their sights.
While both Kubler and Hijikata had their singles campaigns ended prematurely, the pair have kept their dreams of an Open doubles title alive after disposing of the draw’s top seeds in their quarter-final.
The Aussies won their match 6-3, 6-1, over the forerunner pairing of Dutch player Wesley Koolhof and British doubles specialist Neal Skupski.
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Their achievements echo last year’s men’s doubles championship, with unseeded Aussie pairing Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis – affectionately dubbed the Special Ks – knocking out the No.1 seeds on their way to their first major title.
While Kubler and Hijikata are a more low-key presence at their home grand slam than the lively Special Ks, the partnership embodies the same values of Aussie mateship and good humour that make these duo so popular.
Speaking post-match, Kubler called on Australians to come up with a colourful nickname for the latest doubles partnership.
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“I don’t know if it’s our job to come up with one, you know. I think if we get one we’ll run with it, but we have no idea, no idea,” he said.
With the crowd in stitches, the comment followed some heartfelt words of thanks for the support fans had shown the duo through their quarter-final clash.
“First of all thanks a lot everyone for coming out today, it was bloody hot today, so thank you, everyone, for coming. The energy you guys brought was unbelievable and we really thrive off it, and that’s why we play such great dubs, so thank you,” Kubler said.
Aussies upset No.1 seeds
Hijikata added: “We started off a little bit better than our last two matches, so yeah, that was good for us today I suppose and yeah, Koobs brought it from the first point. He played some unbelievable balls today, but yeah, thanks to everyone for coming out, you guys really brought it too, it’s so much fun to play here, so thank you.”
On the back of a fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon earlier last year, Kubler achieved his first win at his home slam when he defeated Sebastian Baez in the first-round.
The 29-year-old achieved a career-high ATP singles ranking of world No.84 this month following a string of individual wins at the United Cup.
Meanwhile, Hijikata also recorded his first win in only his second grand slam opportunity when he conquered Yannick Hanfmann.
Hijikata returns to the limelight of a major after taking the opening set off Rafael Nadal during their first-round clash at the US Open.
Nadal ultimately triumphed in four sets, but then-world No.164 Hijikata gave the grand slam title record-holder a good scare.
Kubler and Hijikata will next face eighth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos for a place in Saturday’s final.
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