Melbourne—Wildcard home duo Rinky Hijikata and Filipino-Australian Jason Kubler won a first Grand Slam crown with victory in the men’s doubles final at the Australian Open on Saturday.
The Australians did a celebratory chest bump and hugged tightly after defeating duo Hugo Nys of Monaco and Poland’s Jan Zielinski 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), to the delight of the home crowd at Rod Laver Arena.
It was Hijikata and Kubler’s first event as a doubles pairing and ensures that the trophy stays in home hands, having been won last year by Australians Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“Rinky and I definitely didn’t think this was happening two weeks ago. Bit of a pleasant surprise,” said Kubler on court.
“I’ve got to thank Rinky, he was the reason we teamed up for this tournament. Two weeks later we’ve got this trophy.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said the feat should make Filipinos proud.
“It’s something that we Filipinos—and the POC—should be proud of and cherish,” said Tolentino of the 29-year-old Kubler, son of a Philippine-born mother and an Australian father.
“We know that a part of him is Filipino and Jason showed that to the world,” Tolentino said. “We’re really proud of him for winning a grand slam title not only for Australians but also for his fellow Filipinos.”
The pair, playing for Australia, defeated Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski, 6-4, 7-6 (4), in the final at the Rod Laver Arena.
It was the first Grand Slam title for both Hijikata and Kubler—the third Australian team to win a men’s doubles title in the last five Grand Slams. They teamed up for the first time.
Kubler turned professional in 2008 but couldn’t pounce on a promising career because of a knee injury that forced him to play exclusively on clay.
Tolentino likened Kubler to Filipino-Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez, who made the final of the US Open final in 2021 as an 18-year-old.