Kubler chasing grand slam glory

Published 5:00am 28 January 2023

Kubler chasing grand slam glory
Words by Nick Crockford

Former Mango Hill resident Jason Kubler is hoping it will be second time lucky today on one of the most famous tennis courts in the world.

Twelve months ago Kubler, 29, reached his first Grand Slam final with Australian Open mixed doubles partner Jaimee Fourlis.

They lost in straight sets, but after a remarkable 12 months he is back on Melbourne's Rod Laver Area in tonight’s men’s doubles final with Rinky Hijikata.

The packed stadium crowd, high tiered seating and glare of the world's media will be a far cry from Danzy Buchanan Park in Mango Hill Village where Kubler played as a youngster. 

His mum Lyn ran court bookings through Mango Hill Progress Association for many years, until recently stepping down.

But, the unseeded Australian wildcards, teaming-up in their first tournament, will be confident chasing one of the greatest prizes in tennis against face Monaco’s Hugo Nys, and Jan Zielinski, of Poland.

It has been a remarkable run for Kubler and Hijikata, who have beaten three seeded teams and seven opponents ranked in the top 20.

The Aussies had a stunning 6-3 6-1 win over top seeds Wesley Koolhof, of the Netherlands and Britain’s Neal Skupski in the quarter-finals.

Then in Thursday’s semi-final Kubler and Hijikata despatched eighth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 6-4 6-2.

“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 on the Tennis Australia website.

Kubler chasing grand slam glory

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

“It’s super special. You know, it’s something we probably weren’t expecting and then even with the draw we have had in this tournament, it’s been pretty tough. 

"To be able to get through against all these quality opponents is making it even a little bit more sweeter."

Kubler and Hijikata, the sixth all-Australian team to reach the Australian Open men’s doubles final, will be on court after the women’s singles final.

Kubler chasing grand slam glory
Jason Kulber. Picture Tennis Australia

Both men's doubles pairings are unseeded, but rankings show daylight between them. Kubler is world ranked 163 and Hijikata 277. Nys sits at 40 and Zielinski 36.

Kubler reached the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles with Maddison Inglis and lost in round two of the men’s singles to world number 18 Karen Khachanov.

All-Australian men’s doubles finalists: 1989 - Darren Cahill/Mark Kratzmann; 1992, 1997, 1998 – Todd Woodbridge/Mark Woodforde; 2020 – Max Purcell/Luke Saville; 2022 – Nick Kyrgios/Thanasi Kokkinakis; 2023 – Jason Kubler/Rinky Hijikata

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