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January 26, 2023

Rinky Hijikata

Jason Kubler

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference


6-4, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Guys, just tell us about what it's like to be in a Grand Slam men's doubles final.

JASON KUBLER: Yeah, no, it's super special. You know, it's something we probably weren't expecting, and then even with the draw we have had in this tournament it's been pretty tough. To be able to get through against all these quality opponents is making it even a little bit more sweeter.

But, yeah, unbelievable. Luckily we get the day off tomorrow so we can sort of, you know, let these wins sink in. Probably enjoy it. Then tomorrow get the focus back on to the doubles and on to the final.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Massive result. Last year we were talking about the fairytale with Kyrgios and Kokkinakis. You guys have stepped up 12 months later? Rinky, you can't wipe the smile off your face. Tell us how you're feeling right now.

RINKY HIJIKATA: Yeah, I'm pumped. I mean, yeah, I wouldn't have picked it at the start of the week. It's just been so much fun, just getting to play more matches at home, getting to play in front of unbelievable crowds with Kubs, who's so much fun to play with and obviously is an unbelievably good player, singles or doubles.

I don't know. I'm just trying to soak it all in. I just can't really believe it, to be honest. Yeah, I wouldn't have picked it. I'm just along for the ride (smiling).

Q. Congratulations, guys. But Jason, you especially, three or four years ago with the injuries, if someone would have told you you'd be playing in your second Grand Slam final, what would you have said?

JASON KUBLER: Yeah, I don't know what I would have said. Even last year with the mixed doubles was... I didn't know if it was honestly going to get any better than that.

I even joked with my team even just in December, if they would have said this is how your January would have went, I would have went, There's no chance that would have happened, especially on the doubles court, you know.

But yeah, you know, it's a special moment for the both of us. Obviously we want to win, but regardless how it goes, this has been special. I'm definitely not going to be forgetting this. I don't think Rinky will be either.

Hopefully we can just keep riding the momentum we have created and see how it goes on Saturday.

Q. There was talk before of the nicknames. Now received a message, Team Kinky. (Laughter.)

JASON KUBLER: I honestly just think we don't have great names for a nickname. Honestly, yeah, like, or we have a bad imagination.

RINKY HIJIKATA: Probably both.

JASON KUBLER: Yeah, I don't know if we can run with that one (laughter). Yeah, who knows with nicknames.

Q. On the point of nicknames, these are some that have come in. Fair Rinkum, Rinky Di, Kubikata...

JASON KUBLER: Nicknames for us or for Rinky (laughter)?

Q. And then there was one on Twitter that said Kinky, and there is Kubler Kata.

RINKY HIJIKATA: I don't know. Take your pick.

JASON KUBLER: Honestly, I guess whatever everyone enjoys, we will probably just take that, you know. There's probably not one that really stands out to us right now.

Q. Australia has a great legacy of men's doubles throughout the decades. Now that you've made it this far, do you guys start to think about that you can become part of that history as well?

RINKY HIJIKATA: I mean, I don't know. Obviously Australia is a very good doubles nation, and that's something that's really engrained into the history of kind of our tennis, and I guess both of us kind of grew up learning about the great doubles players of the past.

You know, it's pretty special trying to carry that on forward. I guess, to be honest, we are both still singles players. We're probably the bottom pair on that list, I'd say, if I'm being honest. Like I don't think we are anywhere near as good as any of the Australian pairs that have come before us.

You know, it's just pretty surprising that we are here, to be honest. We will make the most of it and we will keep going and keep trying our best. Yeah, hopefully we can add to the legacy in some way.

Q. Jason, how did this pairing come about? When did you actually decide you'd play together? I guess, what do you think about the thoughts of you could actually win on Saturday and make the end-of-year Tour Championships?

RINKY HIJIKATA: I asked him about six months before Aussie Open before anyone else could get him before me.

JASON KUBLER: Yeah, no, we were organized early-ish, yeah. But yeah, just the thought that we could maybe win it is pretty surreal, to be honest. Like I said before, it's good that we got a day off in between, just so we can probably enjoy this moment a little better and then refocus when we hit tomorrow.

So that's good. But also, I'm super pumped now for what the future holds. You know, our rankings go up a fair bit now and we can actually play the other slams together. It's great that what we are doing here, but, you know, now we can look to Roland Garros, to Wimbledon, to US Open, to even Aussie Open next year now. There is a new team forming.

That's probably what I'm more excited for.

Q. Speaking of the team, when did you guys actually meet, and how has this relationship blossomed over the years?

RINKY HIJIKATA: I was about probably 10 or 11, and I went to go watch Kubs at the North Shore Open, because he would have been about 18 or 19 then. He was probably what, No. 1 junior in the world? I was like, Yep, I want to be like him when I'm older.

He actually lost that day. Then, I don't know. I think...

JASON KUBLER: You wouldn't think it, but me and Rinky, the difference in age is what, eight years?

RINKY HIJIKATA: Eight years.

JASON KUBLER: There's a fair bit of difference.

RINKY HIJIKATA: I think I hit with you at Junior Davis Cup camp in Brisbane.

JASON KUBLER: I feel like we have known each other for a long time. I don't know if this sounds bad for me, but our maturity level is pretty similar (laughter).

I feel like we get along really well. Then out on the court, you know, the energy Rinky brings, you know, I really enjoy it and then I try to give him some energy.

Yeah, no, we seem to be clicking right now. We have been close for years now. If he's doing well at tournaments or I'm doing well at tournaments, we are congratulating each other. Yeah, probably just something like that.

Q. Rinky, you said that you guys are singles players. Jason, I will ask you, do you try to bring more of a singles-style skillset to the doubles court when you guys are out there?

JASON KUBLER: Yeah, I think for both of us, you know, we don't want to get caught playing these great doubles players like the way they play doubles. 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.

Yeah, 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.

Q. Rinky, at 21 years of age, a year ago, would you have thought you'd play Rafa on Arthur Ashe, Stef on Rod Laver, now you're in a Grand Slam final. How are these experiences helping you in such an early age in tennis terms?

RINKY HIJIKATA: Yeah, it's been a roller coaster of a year. I think this time last year I was still tossing up whether to go back to college or not. You know, I think I have maybe made the right call going on the tour.

Yeah, it's just been one crazy experience after another, and I just feel like I'm trying to learn as much as possible. You know, hanging around these guys, learning from guys like Kubs, you know, seeing what he does.

Yeah, it's just been unreal. I feel like I'm so young in terms of tennis, and I just want to keep learning and keep getting better. That's the main focus for me. I'm not really worried about anything else at the moment. Just trying to soak it all in, learn as much as I can, and just get better.

Q. You were just saying about the day's gap between now and the final. What will the two of you all do, besides obviously having a hit-up, warmup, et cetera? Because I would think that going from, let's say, quarterfinals to semis is quite different to go from semifinal to final. It's such a much bigger step. Harnessing all and mindsets and stuff like that, what will happen on that off day?

JASON KUBLER: Well, I think the best thing for us, like I said before, we are not like a regular doubles team, we played singles here, so I almost feel like having that day sort of gives us time to relax. I sort of feel like we have been playing every day with the singles, with the doubles, with the mixed doubles, as well.

So for me, I'm definitely going to look to have more of a relaxed day, probably the morning not to look to do a whole lot, and then if we can get some specific stuff done in the afternoon, it will be good.

Then if we go out there relaxed, happy, and full of energy, that's probably the most important thing for us. Obviously we've got to acknowledge that it's a final and probably gonna 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.

Q. Do you know much about Nys and Zielinski?

JASON KUBLER: Well, they played Maxey and Thommo, so Maxey has actually been talking a lot to us about these doubles teams, just with how much experience he had the last few years on the doubles side. So that's helped out massively.

Then, yeah, them playing them, I think it was in the quarters, was it? Did they maybe play them in the quarters? They know firsthand what they bring, and then hopefully he can give us a few things that, you know, hopefully we can look to exploit.

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