Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Darren Walton

Kubler chases maiden Australian Open win

Jason Kubler goes into the opening day of the Australian Open in promising form. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Lleyton Hewitt is tipping another milestone moment as Jason Kubler, not undeservingly, leads the local charge on day one of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Enjoying a career-high ranking after picking up in 2023 where he left off in his breakout 2022 season, Kubler is chasing his maiden main-draw win at the Open against South American baseliner Sebastian Baez on Monday.

Baez is no mug, ranked 41st in the world, but the match-up presents born-again 29-year-old Kubler with a golden opportunity to finally break his Melbourne Park duck after a luckless career dogged by knee injuries.

After departing last year's Open ranked No.215 following another unsuccessful qualifying campaign, Kubler has rocketed to 84th after a stunning run of results highlighted by a charge to Wimbledon's last 16 and a Davis Cup debut in September.

He delivered again for Hewitt with two singles wins over top-40 rivals Dan Evans and Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the season-opening United Cup, leaving the Australian captain believing the late bloomer can "absolutely" cause some Open damage at the year's first grand slam.

"I just think he's going to grow just from being around Alex (de Minaur) as well and playing big matches and how to deal with his emotions," Hewitt told AAP.

"Just him going through those experiences, he's going to be a better player.

"We all know the injuries and setbacks he's had and he's put that aside really well and he's got his body into great shape at the moment.

"He plays well on all surfaces as well but for a while there he probably didn't believe that he belonged on the big stage or in the bigger tournaments.

"When he was a hitting partner at the Davis Cup in Sydney in March, April, we were so impressed with how he hit the ball then. He could have easily played in that Davis Cup tie.

"He got his opportunity later in the year and he's gone from strength to strength and he's going to be a dangerous floater at the Aussie Open."

With seeded big guns Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur not launching their title quests until Tuesday, Kubler is the highest-ranked Australian in action on day one.

Five local wildcards also play on Monday, including veteran John Millman against Swiss Marc-Andrea Huesler and Rinky Hijikata against German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann.

Olivia Gadecki, the 20-year-old prodigy being mentored by retired reigning champion Ash Barty, makes her much-anticipated Open debut against teenage qualifier Polina Kudermetova.

Storm Hunter plays Wang Xinyu and Talia Gibson faces Frenchwoman Clara Burel.


Men's singles, first round

Jason Kubler v Sebastian Baez (ARG)

John Millman v Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI)

Rinky Hijikata v Yannick Hanfmann (GER)

Women's singles, first round

Olivia Gadecki v Polina Kudermetova (RUS)

Storm Hunter v Wang Xinyu (CHN)

Talia Gibson v Clara Burel (FRA)

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.