Australian Open champions knocked out at Roland Garros
Jason Kubler was among three Australians eliminated in men's doubles action at Roland Garros today.
It has been a tough start for Australian contenders in the Roland Garros men’s doubles competition, with Grand Slam champions Jason Kubler, Rinky Hijikata and Thanasi Kokkinakis all bowing out in the opening round.
Kubler and Hijikata were unable to replicate the magic that helped them memorably capture the Australian Open 2023 title.
Their Roland Garros debut was spoiled by Brazilian Rafael Matos, the reigning Australian Open mixed doubles champion, and Portgual’s Francisco Cabral, who edged out a 7-6(4) 7-6(5) victory against the No.15-seeded Aussies.
It is world No.27 Kubler and world No.34 Hijikata’s first loss as a team at Grand Slam level.
Kokkinakis soared to a career-high world No.15 in doubles last season, with his title-winning run alongside Nick Kyrgios at Australian Open 2022 providing a major highlight.
But the 27-year-old has only played doubles twice so far in 2023.
“It isn’t as much a priority for me this year,” explained Kokkinakis. “But I still want to play in some of the bigger tournaments.”
However, his Roland Garros experience proved short-lived.
Experienced Italian combination Simone Bolleli and Fabio Fognini, the Australian Open 2015 champions, recorded a 7-6(1) 3-6 6-3 victory against Kokkinakis and his German partner Jan-Lennard Struff in their first-round clash.
Kubler and Kokkinakis now turn their attention to second-round singles matches.
They are among four Australian men to advance to the second round in Paris this year, the most to reach this stage since 2000.
Max Purcell is the latest to join the group, after scoring a four-set victory against fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson.
Aussies in action – Roland Garros
Men’s doubles, first round
Francisco Cabral (POR)/Rafael Matos (BRA) d  Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Jason Kubler (AUS) 7-6(4) 7-6(5)
Simone Bolleli (ITA)/Fabio Fognini (ITA) d Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)/Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-6(1) 3-6 6-3
Men’s doubles, first round
 Matt Ebden (AUS)/Rohan Bopanna (IND) v Sadio Doumbia (FRA)/Fabien Reboul (FRA)
John Peers (AUS)/Marcelo Melo (BRA) v William Blumberg (USA)/Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
Max Purcell (AUS)/Ben Shelton (USA) v Julien Cash (GBR)/Henry Patten (GBR)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS)/Ilya Ivashka v Francisco Cerundolo (ARG)/Federico Coria (ARG)
Women’s doubles, first round
 Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) v Danielle Collins (USA)/Emma Navarro (USA)
 Ellen Perez (AUS)/Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) v [WC] Clara Burel (FRA)/Chloe Paquet (FRA)
Mixed doubles, first round
 Lyudmyla Kichenok (UKR)/Matt Ebden (AUS) v Ena Shibahara (JPN)/Jackson Withrow (USA)
 Ellen Perez (AUS)/Jan Zielinski (POL) v Chan Hao-Ching (TPE)/Fabrice Martin (FRA)
Storm Hunter (AUS)/John Peers (AUS) v [WC] Leolia Jeanjean/Jonathan Eysseric (FRA)
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