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US Open: Hijikata run gives back-up to De Minaur

Australia have one player already through to the second week of the US Open and it is the surprise name of Rinky Hijikata, who has more than justified his status as a wildcard for Flushing Meadows.

The 22-year-old had never previously gone beyond the second round of singles at a Grand Slam, having sprung to prominence earlier this year by claiming the men’s doubles title at the Australian Open alongside Jason Kubler.

Thirteenth seed Alex De Minaur will look to join Hijikata in the last-16 by seeing off 23rd seed Nicolas Jarry in his third-round match

In the women's draw, Australian involvement ended in the second round as Daria Saville was beaten by top seed and defending champion Iga Swiatek, while Alja Tomljanovic was unable to take to the court to face Elena Rybakina due to injury.

Hijikata makes shock progress

WhatRinky Hijikata v Frances Tiafoe, US Open fourth round
WhereFlushing Meadows, New York
When01:00 (AEST), Monday 4th September
How to watch9Now & Stan Sport
OddsRinky Hijikata 6.00, Frances Tiafoe 1.12

Hijikata's success in New York so far has more than made up for the first-rounds exits of Jordan Thompson, Kubler, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Aleksandar Vukic, Max Purcell, James Duckworth and Alexei Popyrin.

Having downed Purcell, Christopher O'Connell faced third seed Daniil Medvedev in round two and put up a good fight before going down in four sets.

Meanwhile, Hijikata opened up with a four-set win over Pavel Kotov, before securing a stunning 6-1 6-2 6-1 victory over former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Marton Fucsovics.

Next up was Chinese Zhizhen Zhang and he was despatched in four sets as Hijikata proved that a run to the semi-finals at the Libema Open at Rosmalen earlier this year was no fluke.

Tiafoe will represent a major step up in class for Hijikata, with the American having reached the semi-finals of his home Grand Slam 12 months ago and being a 29.00 shot to win the US Open.

Tenth seed Tiafoe is as short as 1.12 to progress to the last-16 and is 2.00 to win in straight sets, but Hijikata has already done enough to suggest that he has a bright future ahead in the singles game.

De Minaur aims to match Hijikata

WhatNicolas Jarry v Alex De Minaur, US Open third round
WhereFlushing Meadows, New York
When07:00 (AEST), Sunday 3rd September
How to watch9Now & Stan Sport
OddsNicolas Jarry 3.50, Alex De Minaur 1.30

De Minaur is slightly behind fellow Aussie Hijikata in the Flushing Meadows schedule and is yet to play his third-round match, with a clash with Chilean Jarry next on the agenda.

Timofey Skatov and Wu Yibing were ousted by De Minaur in rounds one and two respectively, with the former taking a set off the Aussie number one before the latter was beaten in straight sets.

Jarry and De Minaur have faced each other just once previously, but the result may be relevant as it came on the outdoor hardcourts in Acapulco in 2019, with the Australian prevailing 7-6 7-6 in a hard-fought contest.

De Minaur, who made it all the way through to the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows in 2020, is 1.30 to defeat Jarry for a second time and is 3.60 to do so in four sets.

Meanwhile, he can be backed at 101.00 to go all the way and win the US Open, a title last secured for Australia back in 2001 by Lleyton Hewitt.

Bitter blow for Tomljanovic

In the women's draw, Olivia Gadecki and Storm Hunter were beaten in their opening matches, while Saville reached round two by demolishing wildcard Clervie Ngounoue 6-0 6-2.

She then put up a more than decent fight against defending champion Swiatek before losing out 6-3 6-4 to the Pole, who is 2.62 to retain her title.

But surely the big story was the return to action of Tomljanovic for the first time this calendar year, with the 30-year-old having reached the quarter-finals of the US Open 12 months ago.

Her first-round match saw her pushed hard by Hungarian Panna Udvardy before she prevailed 3-6 6-2 6-4, setting up a showdown with former Wimbledon champion Rybakina.

However, the knee problems which have plagued her for months meant that she was unable to take to the court against the Kazakh, with Tomljanvoc seemingly uncertain how serious the setback could prove to be.

She told reporters: "I don't even want to think about the rest of the season. I'm always going to do what's best for my long-term recovery.

"I need to go back to the drawing board and get stronger and fitter if I want to compete, not in just one match."

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