Aussies Hijikata/Kubler Stun Top Seeds Koolhof/Skupski For SF Spot
Could local support power another title run for a home pairing this year in the Australian Open doubles?
Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler eased to a remarkable victory Wednesday at the hard-court Grand Slam in Melbourne, where the wild cards brushed past top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 6-3, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals. In doing so, the Australian duo stayed on track to emulate their countrymen Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios’ 2022 triumph at Melbourne Park.
The home favourites broke serve in the opening game of the quarter-final clash and barely looked back thereafter en route to a 66-minute triumph on Kia Arena. Hijikata and Kubler did not face a break point in the match and converted four from 10 break chances of their own against a team who won seven ATP Tour titles in 2022.
Hijikata and Kubler's semi-final opponents will be eighth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, who defeated Andreas Mies and John Peers 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-2. The Spanish-Argentine pair is through to the Melbourne semi-finals for the second straight year after dismissing the 14th-seeded pair that joined forces at the start of 2023.
Granollers/Zeballos saved the only three break points they faced, escaping 0/40 at 5-6 in the second set, but could not carry that momentum into the tie-break. The pair quickly regrouped to take a 3-0 lead in the deciding set, closing out the victory with their third break of the two-hour, 24-minute match.
Consistent partners since 2019, Granollers/Zeballos also reached the Roland Garros semi-finals last season before winning their seventh tour-level title together in Halle. Both men are seeking their first Grand Slam title; they have played in two major finals as a team, at the 2019 US Open and 2021 Wimbledon.