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Quote of the Day: When choosing a doubles team nickname goes terribly wrong
Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata may not be the easiest names to mash together—but the Australian Open doubles finalists will draw the line at “Team Kinky”.
Published Jan 26, 2023
WATCH: Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Rinky Hijikata in the 2023 Australian Open second round
Home hopes Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata have been having a fortnight to remember, and it just got even better on Thursday as the Aussie wildcards booked a spot in the Australian Open men’s doubles final.
In their first major tournament together, Kubler and Hijikata—who stunned the No. 1 seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski 6-3, 6-1 in the quarterfinals—have also extended their country’s men’s doubles dominance in Melbourne.
They became the third all-Aussie team in a row to reach the men’s final in Melbourne, after Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios—dubbed the “Special Ks”—defeated countrymen Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell in 2022. And they are also the fourth local team in four years to reach this stage, as Purcell also made the 2020 final with Luke Saville.
“Obviously Australia is a very good doubles nation, and that's something that's really ingrained into the history of our tennis,” Hijikata told press after their semifinal win. “I guess both of us grew up learning about the great doubles players of the past. It's pretty special trying to carry that on forward.”
But when it came time to think of a catchy team nickname for Kubler and Hijikata, everyone seems to be drawing a blank. Team Kubikata? Team Janky?
One hilarious suggestion was thrown out, and quickly rejected, during their post-match press conference:
Q. There was talk before of nicknames. Now I 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).
Maybe the crowd should just stick to the classic “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi” chants during the final on Saturday?
Whatever the fans take to calling them, it’s been working for Kubler and Hijikata, who have knocked out three seeds, including the tournament favorites, during their remarkable run. The pair saved a match point in the third round against Gonzalo Escobar and Tomislav Brkic 1-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4, before downing the tournament favorites. And on Thursday, they powered past No. 8 seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers in straight sets to reach their first Grand Slam final.
Kubler and Hijikata will know they have the full Rod Laver Arena crowd’s support when they face the unseeded duo of Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski in the final—no matter which names the fans choose to call out.
“We seem to have bad names for a nickname,” Kubler said. “We think of it and then there’s nothing that sounds that good.
“Hopefully someone can come up with something but if not, Jason and Rinky should be fine.”