Aussies Hijikata, Kubler into men’s doubles final

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Local wildcards are through to the Australian Open men’s doubles final for the second straight year with Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler extending their stunning run at Melbourne Park.

Hijikata and Kubler have a chance to emulate Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis‘ unlikely title triumph last year after downing eighth seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers in Thursday’s semifinals

The Australian duo claimed a hard-fought first set before finishing the job 6-4, 6-2 in 63 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

“Who would have thought?,” Kubler said.

“We both returned unbelievable. If anyone watched the match (on Wednesday) they saw Rinky lacing them, I was happy to do my part out there. It’s unbelievable.

“I’m just swinging … with each match we get more confident and feel more at home on these big courts”

Zeballos and Granollers are the same pair Kyrgios and Kokkinakis defeated in last year’s Australian Open semifinals.

But that is where the similarities between the Special Ks and Hijikata and Kubler end.

Unlike Kyrgios and Kokkinakis wild run to the final last year when they whipped raucous crowds into a frenzy, Hijikata and Kubler have quietly gone about their business with little fuss.

This accomplishment adds to Kubler’s remarkable resurgence over the past year, which started with him making the 2022 mixed doubles final at Melbourne Park with compatriot Jaimee Fourlis.

Kubler reached the second week at Wimbledon and was Australia’s last man standing at the French Open, while also making the second round at Flushing Meadows for a second time.

Hijikata exited the men’s singles in the second round at Open with a straight-sets loss to Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I was still pretty bummed about my singles match, to be honest,” Hijikata said when asked if he thought they could make a deep doubles run before the tournament.

“But yeah, wow, we’ll take it for sure.”

Hijikata and Kubler will meet fellow unseeded pair Hugo Nys from Monaco and Poland’s Jan Zielinski in Saturday night’s final after they defeated French duo Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

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