Melbourne, Australia, 25 January 2023 | Leigh Rogers

The most exciting chapter yet has unfolded in Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata’s incredible Australian Open 2023 story.

The Aussie wildcards scored a stunning 6-3 6-1 victory against No.1 seeds Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Brit Neal Skupski in men’s doubles quarterfinal action today at Melbourne Park.

World No.3s Koolhof and Skupski were the world’s best team in 2022, winning seven titles from 10 final appearances.

But Kubler and Hijikata dominated their showdown today, not facing a break point and losing only nine points on serve in the 66-minute demolition.

“We started off a little bit better than our last two matches, so that was good for us,” a delighted Hijikata told an excited Kia Arena crowd.

“Kubes brought it from the first point and I mean, he played some unbelievable ball today. Thanks everybody for coming out. You guys really brought it too and it’s so much fun to play here.”

It continues a magical run for the 29-year-old Kubler and 21-year-old Hijikata, who had never played together before this tournament.

They have now eliminated five top-20 players, two seeded teams and saved a match point during their march into the semifinals.

“It was bloody hot today and the energy you guys brought was unbelievable,” said Kubler, also acknowledging the home-crowd support. “We really thrive off it and that’s why we play such great dubs.”

This is only Kubler’s third career appearance in a Grand Slam men’s doubles draw, while Hijikata is making his second.

Earlier in the day, John Peers fell short in his quest to become the third Aussie player (behind the esteemed Woodies, Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge) to advance to three Australian Open men’s doubles semifinals in Melbourne Park’s 35-year history.

Eighth seeds Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos from Argentina proved too strong in their quarterfinal battle, edging out a 6-4 6-7(2) 6-2 victory in two hours and 24 minutes.

World No.16 Granollers and world No.14 Zeballos did not lose a service game in the match, helping them advance to a second consecutive Australian Open semifinal.

They’ll now play world No.163 Kubler and world No.277 Hijikata for a place in the final.

In women’s doubles, Storm Hunter and Belgian partner Elise Mertens were ousted in the quarterfinals.

Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk and Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse continued their giant-killing run, posting a 7-6(6) 2-6 6-4 victory against the fourth seeds.

The unseeded combination of world No.38 Kostyuk and world No.89 Ruse have eliminated both of Australia’s top-two ranked women, world No.12 Hunter and world No.20 Ellen Perez, during their run into the semifinals.

The 28-year-old Hunter had been aiming to become only the eighth Aussie player in Melbourne Park’s 35-year history to progress to an Australian Open women’s doubles semifinal.

A dream run ended for Oliva Gadecki and Marc Polmans in the mixed doubles, with the Australians exiting in the semifinals to Brazilian duo Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos.

Gadecki and Polmans stepped confidently into the spotlight at Rod Laver Arena, recovering from a service-break deficit to take the first set in 38 minutes.

But a single break of the Gadecki serve in the seventh game of the second set was all that was required for Stefani and Matos to send the high-stakes contest into a match tiebreak.

Showing how quickly fortunes can turn in mixed doubles, Gadecki and Polmans held a match point but were unable to convert. Stefani and Matos, who also combined successfully at the United Cup in Brisbane, held their nerve to continue a perfect record in Australia this summer with a 4-6 6-4 [11-9] victory.

They’ll face Indian duo Sania Mirza, who is soon to retire, and Rohan Bopanna in the final.

AUSSIES IN ACTION – Australian Open

Men’s doubles, quarterfinals
[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Jason Kubler (AUS) d [1] Wesley Koolhof (NED)/Neal Skupski (GBR) 6-3 6-1
[8] Marcel Granollers (ESP)/Horacio Zeballos (ARG) d [14] John Peers (AUS)/Andreas Mies (GER) 6-4 6-7(2) 6-2

Women’s doubles, quarterfinals
Marta Kostyuk (UKR)/Elena-Gabriela Ruse (ROU) d [4] Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-6(6) 2-6 6-4

Mixed doubles, semifinals
Luisa Stefani (BRA) /Rafael Matos (BRA) d [WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS)/Marc Polmans (AUS) 4-6 6-4 [11-9]

Men’s wheelchair doubles, quarterfinals
Alexander Cataldo (CHI)/Tom Egberink (NED) d Ben Weekes (AUS)/Casey Ratzlaff (USA) 6-2 6-2

Quad wheelchair doubles, semifinals
[1] Sam Schroder (NED)/Niels Vink (NED) d Heath Davidson (AUS)/Robert Shaw (CAN) 6-0 6-1

Men’s doubles, semifinals
[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Jason Kubler (AUS) v [8] Marcel Granollers (ESP)/Horacio Zeballos (ARG)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2023 men’s doubles draw

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