Kubler and Hijikata eliminated the sixth-seeders in the second round but went to another level on Wednesday, defeating top-seeders Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals.
The Australian pair also secured a match point in the third round, making it a notable event for them as neither is ranked in the top 150 in doubles.
Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis made almost daily headlines last year with their stunning run together at Melbourne Park, crowned by their triumph over compatriots Max Purcell and Matt Ebden in the final.
The Kubler-Hijikata duo isn’t the only Australian combination to do well, with Marc Polmans and Olivia Gadecki progressing to the mixed doubles semifinals.
Four in a trot
Aryna Sabalenka’s breakthrough at the Australian Open has her qualified for an exclusive club.
The 24-year-old fifth seed was once considered an underachiever – and she’s still chasing a first Major title – but her 6-3, 6-2 win over Donna Vekic makes her the sixth woman to win her first four Grand Slams in quarters Final.
Sabalenka, who is in her fourth Grand Slam semifinal from her last six attempts, joins the greats Chris Evert (48), Ann Jones (six), Billie Jean King, Elena Dementieva and Naomi Osaka (all four) so.
Speaking of Billie Jean King, she and six other legendary members of the “Original Nine”, whose breakaway tennis circuit eventually became the modern WTA Tour, were at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.
King, Rosie Casals, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Julie Heldman, Nancy Richey and Australians Judy Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid boldly started their own professional tour, the Virginia Slims Circuit, in 1970.
They signed a symbolic $1 contract with the larger goal of advocating for women’s equality.
“I’m very proud. I think we did a fantastic job. I don’t know if we all realize the impact we’ve had,” Dalton said.
“We were hoping that we would have a great effect, but I’m not sure we realized it was going to be as great as it was.”
They will be leading the AO Inspirational Series luncheon on Thursday.
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