Queenslander Jason Kubler is celebrating the perfect birthday present after completing his own personal grand slam. The one-time world No 1 junior, who has been beset by injury woes in the senior ranks, said it felt “unreal” to make the French Open main draw at Roland Garros, thus completing his set of playing in all four majors.
On his 29th birthday, getting through the gruelling ordeal of the qualifying tournament on the red clay in Paris was another sign that the former wunderkind is enjoying a late-career renaissance. Kubler defeated Portugal’s Pedro Sousa 7-5, 6-2 in the third round and became the only Australian man to qualify this year.
“Feels unreal. This was the last slam where I hadn’t played a main draw,” he said. “Luckily, I got a wildcard into Aussie, and then another into US and then I qualified for Wimby, so it’s nice to have qualified for another one. I guess just this year for me, in general, has been a pretty good one.”
It started on a high when he reached the mixed doubles final at the Australian Open with Jaimee Fourlis and continued with a couple of victories in lower-level events in Canberra. He put the lucrative pay day from the Melbourne final to good use.
“That really set me up for the year and I could start investing myself with coaching and some sort of support along the road,” he said. “Just the exact same thing with this tournament now, I can really start to plan things, have a lot more people around me. Always makes it a bit easier with all the travel and stuff like that. If anything, it’s just more money now that I can invest in myself.”
Getting through to the first round of the main draw will guarantee Kubler at least 62,000 euros ($93,000) to further fund his revival. But he will have to wait until all the other qualifiers have been completed on Friday to learn who his first-round opponent will be. Potential nightmarish opponents first up for him in the draw could be luminaries like Alexander Zverev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Carlos Alcaraz.
“Obviously I’d love to win as many rounds as I could but, to be honest, I just want to play people where I learn things about myself,” he said. “If I play any of the big names, win or lose, I’m going to learn what I need to improve, learn what type of player I am, maybe experience some pretty cool moments. Winning a couple of rounds, that’d be nice, but anything that comes my way, I’ll try my best and hopefully learn from it.”
Kubler could be joined as a qualifier by compatriot Seone Mendez, who has never been in any grand slam women’s main draw but will have a shot in Friday’s third-round match against Canadian Rebecca Marino.