Once dubbed “the right-handed version of Rafael Nadal”, 29-year-old Jason Kubler is in the form of his life and is proving why he was once rated so highly as a junior.
For those who don’t know the Jason Kubler story, here’s a quick recap:
Not long before discovering he had a hereditary condition that weakened his meniscus, Jason Kubler was the world's No. 1 junior, with a bright future. Unfortunately for the Queenslander, before he ever got the chance to get going, injuries struck.
At just 16 years old, Kubler competed in his first major main draw at the Australian Open. He bowed out in the first round, going down to Ivan Ljubicic in straight sets.
After repeated knee injuries in the early stages of his career, doctors told Kubler that he should avoid playing on hard courts in order to avoid doing more serious damage to his knee. Following his Australian Open appearance in 2010, Kubler would only be sighted at four lower-level hard court tournaments, until in 2011, he decided to scrap the hard courts altogether and play only on clay.
With the exception of a singular grass-court tournament at futures level, Kubler toiled away playing on clay only - and remarkably in doing so, got his ranking inside the top 200, in 2015.
It had been four years since he last played on hard courts when Kubler took to the court in US Open qualifying. Unfortunately, he lost in the opening round, and would not return to the hard courts until 2017, when he made the decision to test his knee once more on hard courts.
Within a year, Kubler was inside the top 100 in the ATP Rankings. Incredible. In the opening round of the US Open, he knocked out top 20 seed Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets, before injury cruelly struck again, midway through his second-round match. Kubler was forced to retire at one-set-all and would be sidelined again with injury.
”I have a knack, even if it’s not my knee, I like to be out for six months. Then I’m back for six months, then I’m out for six months,” Kubler said in a press conference at The French Open.
Fast forward to 2022, six surgeries later, Jason Kubler is now in the form of his life - back inside the top 100 and reaching new heights.
Less than four months ago, the 29-year-old was competing at futures tournaments in Australia. Then in May, Kubler headed overseas to up his level to the Challenger circuit, where he experienced instant success. Kubler qualified for the French Open main draw and won a round, before reaching back-to-back finals on the Challenger circuit, winning one, and retiring from the other with stomach pains.
Kubler then headed to the UK and in ripping form, qualified for the main draw of Wimbledon and reached the round of 16, crushing 28th seed Dan Evans in straight sets on the way.
And as hard as it is to better a week like the one Kubler had at The All England Club, two weeks later, he did just that in Newport.
At the Hall Of Fame Open in Newport, Kubler opened his week with a straight sets win over fellow Australian Jordan Thompson.
Then, a career-best result for the Aussie. In the second round, Kubler came back from a set down and saved a match point to claim a major triumph, his first top 10 win, over No. 1 seed and world No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime.
“Wimbledon it was happening every match. I was like I beat this guy but now I have to focus for the next one,” Kubler said in his post-match on-court interview.
Competing in his maiden tour-level quarterfinal, Kubler overcame a 0-4 head-to-head record against fellow Australian James Duckworth to back up his incredible win and advance to a maiden semifinal.
“I was actually more nervous to play ducks than I was to play Felix, it's a good mental victory for me today,” Kubler said in his post-match on-court interview.
Unfortunately, Kubler was unable to go one step further as he bowed out in a straight sets defeat to Alexander Bublik.
But wow. What a week for the Queenslander.
“I’ve sort of got the mindset of trying my best out there and just sort of letting it happen ... in the end giving everything I’ve got,” Kubler said in his press conference at The French Open.
Kubler now finds himself at 96 in the ATP Rankings, just five spots shy of his career-high 91. If he's able to stay fit, who knows just how high the Aussie can soar up the rankings. My tip is he can be top 50 after the Australian summer of tennis.
“The last few months, the work we’ve been putting in with my team if anything just gives me confidence that we’re on the right track. Just confident that the process we’re taking is heading in the right direction,” Kubler said.