Defending Australian Open champions aiming to “just enjoy it out there”
Reigning Australian Open champions Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler are not feeling any pressure ahead of their title defence.
Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler enjoyed a magical run in the Australian Open 2023 men’s doubles competition.
Teaming up for the first time, the wildcards sensationally defeated seven top-20 players during their march to the title.
It was a fairy-tale run that captivated fans too, sparking incredible scenes each time they took to the court.
“It was crazy,” Hijikata related to tennis.com.au.
“It was only my second time playing AO dubs, so it was pretty cool. Having that support and being on court with someone like Kubs, who is a good mate and really fun to play with, was awesome.
“I think the crowd definitely got us through a few of those tough matches at the start and I don’t think we would have gone close to winning without them.”
Ranked No.277 at the time, Hijikata has since skyrocketed to a career-high doubles ranking of world No.23.
He will reunite with Kubler, whose doubles ranking peaked at No.27 during 2023, again this summer.
Since their Australian Open heroics, they have won only three of their 13 matches together.
“We didn’t manage to play a whole lot in 2023, so looking forward to getting back out there with him and seeing what we can do and just enjoying it out there,” Hijikata said.
Although they enter the tournament as the defending champions, the 22-year-old Hijikata downplayed any extra pressure.
“Both of us really want to make a push in our singles tournament and that’s going to be our main focus,” he said.
“Any time we’re playing a singles and doubles event, the doubles kind of takes a back seat.
“It’ll just be fun to go out there with him. I don’t think we’ll have any expectations, and I don’t think anyone will have many expectations for us, and we’re fine with that.
“We’ll just go out there to enjoy it and compete as well as we can.”
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