Australian Rinky Hijikata is through to the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time, overcoming Zhang Zhizhen in a three-hour battle.
- Rinky Hijikata moves into the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time
- The Australian is a wildcard in this year’s US Open
- He defeated Zhang Zhizhen in the third round on Saturday AEST
Hijikata, a wildcard in this year’s tournament, claimed the victory in four sets 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
The 22-year-old was full of energy from the opening point, compared to Zhang who looked lethargic in the opening two sets.
The Chinese player was coming off back-to-back five-set battles, including a victory over fifth seed Casper Ruud in the previous round.
But the pair waged a tough battle, contesting every point in front of a vocal crowd at Flushing Meadows.
The Australian won the opening two sets, never giving his opponent a chance at a break point.
Zhang bounced back in a third set, highlighted by five break points between the pair.
But the Australian’s energy and resolve was enough to win the fourth and claim the biggest win of his grand slam career.
Hijikata does enough to take opening two sets
Hijikata had early opportunities in the opening set, with three break points off Zhang’s opening service game.
The Australian could not convert them and failed again with another break point chance in the sixth game.
Hijikata continued to apply pressure to Zhang’s serve and finally got his break in the eighth game to take a 5-3.
The Australian then clinically served out the opening set.
Hijikata again had a chance in the opening game of the second set to break Zhang’s serve, but the Australian was unable to win the point.
The second set remained on serve, despite both players forcing the other to work hard for their points.
The Australian got another chance to break in the seventh game, and after missing his first opportunity he forced Zhang long on the second break point.
Hijikata’s confidence was high as the Australian held his serve and then took the second set 6-3 with another break of serve.
Zhang fights back but Rinky finishes the job
In a match where break points had been hard to come by, there were five in the third set, including four straight between the sixth and ninth games.
Hijikata’s serve was rock-solid in the opening two sets, with Zhang never having a break point opportunity.
The Chinese player finally got a chance in the opening game of the third set, and he took full advantage to renew hope for his fans.
The pair then traded two break points each between games six and nine, before Zhang was able to hold serve and send the match into a fourth set.
Like the third set, the two traded a trio of break points in the fourth as the tension rose.
This time it was Hijikata who had the extra break, as he pushed for the biggest win in his young professional career.
With match point, Hijikata hit his 13th ace and secured his spot in the fourth round against 10th seed Frances Tiafoe.