Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata have made it back-to-back doubles titles for Australian men at Melbourne Park after sealing an incredible straight-sets win in the Australian Open final on Saturday night. The Aussie duo emulated Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis' famous triumph in 2022, with an equally memorable victory in this year's final.
With the 'Special Ks' unable to defend their title this year, and women's singles champion Ash Barty retiring from the sport, Kubler and Hijikata have flown the Aussie flag with distinction, beating Monaco's Hugo Nys and Poland's Jan Zielinski 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in Saturday night's decider. The manner in which the Aussie wildcards clinched the title is nothing short of extraordinary, with the championship point one that will be talked about for years to come.
The men's match didn't get started on Rod Laver Arena until after 11pm with the women's singles final stretching to three sets, as Aryna Sabalenka clinched her maiden grand slam title by edging Elena Rybakina in a thrilling final. Plenty of fans stuck around at Melbourne Park post-midnight to watch the Aussie wildcards thought, and they were rewarded with an impressive show.
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 28, 2023
Playing together for the first time, the local wildcards cut a swathe through the draw to make the title match, knocking off three top 10 seeds including top-ranked Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski in the quarter-finals. Nys and Zielinski were also playing in their maiden grand slam final and only linked as a pair last March.
However, they won the Metz trophy last season and reached the US Open quarter-finals. Showing no signs of nerves, the Australians broke Zielinski's serve to love early in the opening set.
Kubler himself served well throughout while Hijikata, at 21 eight years younger than his partner, was outstanding at the net. They both outplayed their opponents from the back of the court to fire up their fans.
Kubler stormed through his serve to level at 6-6 in the second set, sending it to a tiebreak. They edged ahead 5-4 after a searing Kubler forehand and won the match in a chaotic final point that left Hijikata on his backside.
— TennisONE App (@TennisONEApp) January 28, 2023
You beauty Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata! Grand Slam men’s doubles champions. A special night for the Aussies. #AusOpen
— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) January 28, 2023
Hijikata/Kubler just won the Australian Open doubles title with THAT match point 🤯pic.twitter.com/EB5meDRyrj
— Bastien Fachan (@BastienFachan) January 28, 2023
That’s was the best! So much fun!! Well done Rinky & Jason! 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺
— KrisSchiffter (@krissyschiffter) January 28, 2023
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2023
— Tennis4ever (@Tennis4everr) January 28, 2023
Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!
Wild cards Rinky Hijikata/Jason Kubler complete a dream fortnight in Melbourne by defeating Hugo Nys/Jan Zielinski 6-4, 7-6(4) to win the Australian Open men's doubles title!
Back-to-back titles for wild card Aussie duos! pic.twitter.com/3STbNjej0b
— Gaspar Ribeiro Lança (@gasparlanca) January 28, 2023
Aussie wildcards capture fairytale title
"I had no clue what was going on - Kubs (Kubler) swatted two balls back and I absolutely stacked it," Hijikata said. "To be honest, I'm a bit dirty that that's my match point, winning a grand slam on that."
The Aussie victors were presented the Australian Open men's doubles trophy by legendary American twins Mike and Bob Bryan. They also will split an impressive prize cheque of $695,000.
Kubler, the former junior world No.1 who's completed a spectacular rise over the past 12 months after an injury-hit career, said it was his career highlight.
"It's pretty crazy now what me and Rinky can do for the rest of the year - I think we can play all of the tournaments together, hopefully build off this," the 29-year-old said.
"But, man, this is the highlight of the career for me. Rinky is only 21 and he's a grand slam champion so he's got a great future ahead of him."
No all-Australian pairing since the legendary Woodies - Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde - had won the Open men's doubles in a quarter of a century until last year. Now Kubler and Hijikata have repeated the wildcard heroics of the 'Special Ks', Kyrgios and Kokkinakis.
Australians own two of the four men's grand slam doubles trophies. After losing last year's Australian Open final to Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, Max Purcell and Matt Ebden won Wimbledon six months later.
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