January 29, 2023
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, amazing match. Talk us through the match. At the beginning of the tournament, did you let yourselves think could be a real possibility?
RINKY HIJIKATA: No. No, not in the slightest. I think we were just happy to be in the draw, to be honest. We looked at our draw, we were like, Geez, if we could win one match or so, that would be a pretty good effort.
I don't even know. It's been a ridiculous two weeks. Yeah, I mean, I can't really put it into words. Yeah, it's been an absolute blast. I can't really believe this just happened.
JASON KUBLER: Yeah, no, same as Rinky. I think right now it actually hasn't sunk in, what we've done, what we've accomplished. It probably still feels like we have another match in a couple days or something like that.
I think after we wake up tomorrow, I think we'll really realize what we've just done. I saw a photo after our semi, it said we only won eight or nine matches on the ATP Tour before. Now we have a Grand Slam title. Even just to say that...
For me, I didn't know if that was ever going to come true. For Rinky to be 21, have a Grand Slam under his belt already, it's pretty exciting.
Tonight we'll definitely enjoy it. I think tomorrow when Rinky has gone to his next tournament, I'm probably going home, it will really sink in and we'll realize what we've done.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Talk us through the match point.
RINKY HIJIKATA: I mean, I had no clue what was going on. Kubs swatted two balls back. I absolutely stacked it. To be honest, I'm a bit dirty that that's my match point, winning a slam on that. Yeah, I do look pretty unco there. I just watched it. It's pretty bad. I don't know what I did.
Yeah, I don't know. I guess just super lucky there, to be honest. All luck. I didn't really know much about that country. Kubs did well to get those two balls back. I'm pretty sure I gave Hugo a high volley. Kubs did unreal to fight that one off.
Yeah, I don't even know.
Q. Jason, you've been through some tough times with the operations on your knee. At the lowest time, did you ever dream or imagine a night like tonight as a way of motivating you?
JASON KUBLER: Yeah, I think even lowest, highest, whichever, I never thought in doubles this was going to happen. I always dreamt of the singles one. That's sort of what motivated me.
RINKY HIJIKATA: It's coming for Kubs.
JASON KUBLER: That's what motivated me through those tough times. I also really enjoy playing.
Yeah, look, I was never really thinking about the doubles trophy. I can't get into a lot of the tournaments because I don't have a high enough ranking, so...
It's pretty crazy now what me and Rinky can do for the rest of the year. I think we can play if not all of the tournaments together, hopefully build off this.
But, man, this is the highlight of the career for me honestly. Still it hasn't 100% sunk in yet. It just feels, I don't know, almost surreal a little bit.
Yeah, highlight of the career by far.
Q. How much did the support of the crowd, energy, help you?
RINKY HIJIKATA: Massive. I think honestly we would have lost first or second round had we not had the support we did. We got through I think very close matches, the first three matches. We were getting chopped in the second one. The third one I think we were down a set and 4-2, down match point also.
Just having so many people behind you, it's hard not to get up for it. It's hard not to kind of back yourself in the moment, really enjoy it. This is what you play for, being able to play a home slam. There's nothing better.
Yeah, it's been just crazy. It's so much fun. I'm hoping that this is just the first of many Aussie Opens in front of support like that.
Q. You mentioned playing some of the other major events this year. What does a win in terms of the prize money do to bankroll your seasons?
JASON KUBLER: For me, it makes a massive difference. Obviously winning Grand Slams, singles especially, but doubles also, I would almost say to an extent a career-changing thing. I feel after this, I can really almost choose who I want to come and when I want them to come, which is pretty cool.
I'm working with a coach, Jarrad Bunt, on the Gold Coast. I feel at least this year anyways it's not really a money decision. It will be when I really want him to come over. That gives us great flexibility with our schedules, great peace of mind. We're not worrying about making ends meet. Even if we're homesick a little bit, we can bring our family over or we can bring whoever over.
Now, yeah, it makes it a lot more easy, a lot more comfortable for us.
Q. Rinky, what is next?
RINKY HIJIKATA: I'm flying to Burnie in about 12 hours. I'm playing the challenger there. I think I have to play Tuesday.
Yeah, I mean, I'll enjoy this tonight, probably tomorrow, try to soak it all in. Yeah, headed to Burnie.
Q. You play a qualifier as a first opponent.
RINKY HIJIKATA: Tuesday start. Lucky. I definitely didn't want to play Monday.
Q. (Question about the partnership starting.)
RINKY HIJIKATA: Obviously Kubs kind of lighting it up last year. He did very, very well. Even in dubs, he did very well, made two ATP Finals. Yeah, so, I thought honestly if I signed in with him, we'd be a good chance at getting into the tournament first of all, getting a wild card.
That was one of the kind of factors, was I felt if we signed in together, I was hoping we'd be a good shot to get in. Obviously, he's an unreal player. I'm hoping he could kind of carry me through one or two matches. He ended up carrying me through six.
Yeah, I mean, I guess I picked my partners well this week.
Q. Rinky, playing in college, you do have to play a lot of doubles, how much does that help your game?
RINKY HIJIKATA: I think it's massive. I think doubles is such a massive part of college tennis. You do do a lot of kind of work around the doubles game. Especially at North Carolina, we had great coaches, Coach Paul and Tripp who made the semifinals of the US Open doubles. To have someone like that, be able to learn from them, yeah, it's second to none.
Obviously I have Sharky now, who is a serve-volleyer himself, maybe able to implement a little bit of that into my game, a bit of dubs kind of tactics and whatnot.
Yeah, when I was at UNC, I was playing three dubs. I was barely getting a run because we had that many good doubles players. If any of them tried to come and play on the tour, they'd absolutely light it up. I was probably one of the worst doubles players on the team, honestly. Yeah, so when you're competing with guys like that week in and week out, it's tough not to get better.
Q. Have you divided responsibilities? It seemed Rinky was the more energetic one and Jason the more grounded one. Have you discussed roles as a team?
JASON KUBLER: No, there's definitely no roles. I think the great thing about us is when we get out there, most of the time it's Rinky fires us up, then almost sort of lifts me up a little bit. Honestly, I believe the more energy Rinky has, the better he plays. That was sort of the reason I was trying to get the crowd pumped before the match point. I thought this guy loves the big moment. Every time we go out on those big courts, it's more excitement from Rinky. Even if I'm a little bit nervous, Rinky sort of either pumps me up or calms me down because I know he's out there enjoying it as much as he can.
I don't know if we intentionally try, but we definitely don't talk about roles or leaders or anything like that. We almost just go out there and try and have fun, try and enjoy it.
I think that's the way we play our best tennis, is by sort of not thinking too much and just sort of playing off feel and instinct, so...
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