It feels like Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis all over again as another wildcard local pairing has reached the Australian Open doubles final.
And Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler will be hoping to emulate the ‘Special K’s’ achievement of winning the 2022 Australian Open after they defeated eighth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos to reach Saturday’s decider.
The Aussie duo steamrolled their Spanish and Argentine opponent 6-4 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena and will now take on Polish and French duo Jan Zielinski and Hugo Nys in the final to be played prior to the women’s singles final.
Hijikata, ranked 267 in doubles, and Kubler, 163, were in control throughout the match, breaking once in the first set to edge the advantage, before taking their opponents serve twice in the second set to win the contest with ease in front of a parochial crowd.
The pair only gave up one break point for the afternoon, which they saved, in a confident performance, as they blew their opponents off the court with physicality and power in their games despite their lesser physical status.
It’s been a dream run for Hijikata and Kubler to the final, with the pair never having played doubles together in a professional tournament before.
After struggling to three-set wins in rounds two and three, the Aussies eliminated No.1 seeds Wesley Koolholf and Neal Skupski in straight sets to reach the semi-final against Granollers and Zeballos.
Hijikata and Kubler’s opponents in the final – Zielinski and Nys – are an experienced duo who knocked out the second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in the second round of the Australian Open.
They also played together extensively in 2022, winning a doubles title in Metz.