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HIJIKATA AND KUBLER STUN TOP SEEDS TO REACH AUS OPEN SEMIS



[WC] Jason Kubler (AUS)/Rinky Hijikata (AUS) def [1] Neal Skupski (GBR)/Wesley Koolhof (NED) 6-3, 6-1


Aussie wildcards Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata have caused another major upset in the men’s doubles draw – this time toppling No.1 seeds Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhof in straight sets on Kia Arena.


Kubler and Hijikata dropped just four games en route to victory over the Paris, Madrid, and Canada Masters 1000 winners from 2022.


The Aussie duo returned remarkably well, hitting six return winners to one and breaking on four separate occasions, whilst not giving up their own serve once.


Kubler and Hijikata previously fought back from a set down to win both their second and third round matches – including coming from 6-1, 4-2 down in an encounter with Tomislav Brkic and Gonzalo Escobar.


The pair also had to fend off a match point in the second set tiebreak of that match and were pleased to enjoy a more comfortable win in their quarterfinal today.


“We started off a little bit better than our last two matches, so that was good for us,” Hijikata said post-match.


“[Kubler] brought it from the first point and played some unbelievable balls today,” the 21-year-old said.


The duo was also relishing the home crowd – as they have all week – to help get them over the line and into the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.


“The energy you guys brought was unbelievable,” Kubler said.


“Thanks to everyone for coming out. It was so much fun to play here,” Hijikata added.


After an all-Aussie men’s doubles final last year where Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis overcame Matt Ebden and Max Purcell, Hijikata and Kubler are just two wins from securing back-to-back local titles.


The duo will now face eighth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in the last four and are not underestimating the experienced doubles pairing.


“[They are] two guys that are well-established in the doubles world and they’ve both had great singles careers as well,” Kubler said.


“They’re definitely dangerous and they’re definitely one of the best teams going.”


Speaking on how the pair will prepare ahead of their semi-final clash, Hijikata revealed the secret recovery plan which is helping them to keep overcoming doubles’ top seeds.


“Probably a packet of lollies for [Kubler] and then a can of Pepsi for him – and maybe twelve hours sleep.”



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