Melbourne, Australia, 28 January 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler will contest the Australian Open 2023 men’s doubles final this evening.

The Aussie wildcards are hoping to ride the momentum from their stunning career-best run to clinch a maiden Grand Slam title.

“If we go out there relaxed, happy, and full of energy, that’s probably the most important thing for us,” Kubler said.

“Obviously we’ve got to acknowledge that it’s a final. (We’re) probably going to feel nervous and excited and all those emotions. But if we can just do our best to stay happy, stay relaxed, and enjoy the moment, I think that gives us the best chance.”

The men’s doubles final follows tonight’s women’s singles final showdown between world No.5 Aryna Sabalenka and reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina at Rod Laver Arena.

Kubler and Hijikata face another pair of first-time finalists, world No.40 Hugo Nys and world No.36 Jan Zielinski.

The 31-year-old Nys, from Monaco, and 26-year-old Zielinski, from Poland, are doubles specialists who have eliminated two seeded teams in their charge to the final.

“We don’t want to get caught playing these great doubles players like the way they play doubles,” Kubler said.

“We bring something different, a different style of play to doubles. We are probably more, in a way, counterpunchers or sort of looking more dangerous on the returns than maybe the serve.

“I think we just have to remember that when we play, like, if we can get in baseline rallies or if we can get in situations where we can show a bit of flare with our groundstrokes, that’s going to give an advantage to us.”

Although this is the first time that 21-year-old Hijikata and 29-year-old Kubler have teamed up on the doubles court, they have known each other for several years.

“I was about probably 10 or 11 and I went to go watch Kubs at the North Shore Open,” Hijikata related of their first meeting. “He would have been about 18 or 19 then. He was probably No.1 junior in the world. I was like, ‘Yep, I want to be like him when I’m older’.”

Athough their is an eight-year age difference, they have formed a solid friendship.

“I don’t know if this sounds bad for me, but our maturity level is pretty similar,” Kubler laughed.

“I feel like we get along really well. Then out on the court, you know, the energy Rinky brings, I really enjoy it and then I try to give him some energy. We seem to be clicking right now.”

Kubler and Hijikata are aiming to become the 14th all-Aussie team to win an Australian Open men’s doubles title in the Open era.

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