Hijikata, 18, Stuns Second Seed In Australian Open Qualifying


Aussie teenager Rinky Hijikata punched well above his weight on Thursday in Australian Open qualifying. The 18-year-old, No. 734 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, delighted the home crowd with a 7-6(0), 7-6(3) win over second-seeded Swiss Henri Laaksonen in their opening-round match.

Two other #NextGenATP players also enjoyed first-round qualifying wins. Fourth-seeded Finn Emil Ruusuvuori defeated Argentine Facundo Mena 7-5, 6-2 and inched closer to making his Top 100 debut. Seventeen-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti, last year’s boys’ singles champion in Melbourne, eased past Israeli Amir Weintraub 6-2, 6-1.

Belgian Steve Darcis played the final match of his career in a 7-5, 7-5 defeat to Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit. Darcis, who competed for Team Belgium last week in the ATP Cup, peaked at No. 38 in October 2017 and is perhaps best known for beating Rafael Nadal in the first round of 2013 Wimbledon.

Several second-round qualifying matches also took place on Thursday. Tenth-seeded Slovakian Norbert Gombos and Aussie Max Purcell were among the players to move within one match of the main draw.

The placements for this year’s qualifiers were revealed during the live draw ceremony on Thursday evening. They will hope to land one of two all-qualifier matchups in the first round and avoid treacherous openers that include No. 16 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia.

Click here to view all the results from Day 3 of qualifying.

Source ATP World Tour

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