Australian Hijikata Emerges as Barrier to U.S. Ambitions for Grand Slam Victory

by Sophia Chen
Rinky Hijikata U.S. Open

Rinky Hijikata is fully aware that his upcoming match at the U.S. Open against Frances Tiafoe represents more than just an individual competition.

Securing his furthest advance in a major tournament thus far, the Australian has become the sole impediment to the United States securing a guaranteed men’s semifinal slot. Should Hijikata fail to triumph in his next two fixtures, the possibility for the U.S. to break a two-decade Grand Slam title absence remains very much in play.

Hijikata is under no illusions regarding the crowd’s allegiances come Sunday when he competes against 10th seed Frances Tiafoe. Should he emerge victorious, he will then face the winner of the all-American duel between 14th-seeded Tommy Paul and Ben Shelton in the quarterfinals.

“The audience will decidedly not be in my favor,” acknowledged Hijikata, “nonetheless, I intend to derive as much enjoyment from the experience as possible.”

Participating in only his third Grand Slam event, the 22-year-old has already graced the Arthur Ashe Stadium’s court. He met Rafael Nadal in the inaugural round last year, succumbing in four sets, which means he is no stranger to the ambiance of the venue. However, he recognizes that the atmosphere will be notably different when facing Tiafoe, a crowd favorite in Flushing Meadows who encourages spectators to amplify their support.

“Tiafoe is an exceptional athlete with an impressive serve,” Hijikata stated. “He is one of the emerging faces of American tennis, which undoubtedly adds excitement for the local fans, who will certainly rally behind him.”

No American male has seized a Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick’s 2003 U.S. Open win. Tiafoe almost disrupted this pattern last year but was defeated by eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz.

Hijikata’s background includes collegiate tennis at North Carolina, where he earned All-American status prior to turning professional. He describes the forthcoming match as akin to some of the vociferous environments he has encountered during his college career.

“I recall matches in South Carolina as particularly challenging,” said Hijikata. “The crowd was openly hostile, yet we managed a victory, making it one of my memorable experiences in college tennis.”

The scale of the crowd he faces in his imminent match will be of an entirely different magnitude.

Growing up, Hijikata looked up to fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who won the U.S. Open in 2001, as well as Kei Nishikori, who has Japanese lineage similar to his own and was a U.S. Open runner-up in 2014. He aims to emulate the tenacity and spirit exhibited by these tennis icons.

Earlier this year, Hijikata received strong crowd support when he and compatriot Jason Kubler clinched the Australian Open doubles championship. He anticipates no such favor this coming Sunday against Tiafoe.

“I am prepared for the upcoming challenge,” said Hijikata. “I recognize that my level of play must be exceptional to unsettle him, and I am keen to see what I can accomplish.”

Source: AP Tennis: AP Tennis Website

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Rinky Hijikata U.S. Open

What is the main focus of the text?

The main focus of the text is to discuss Australian tennis player Rinky Hijikata’s upcoming match against 10th-seeded Frances Tiafoe in the U.S. Open. The article explores the implications of this match for the U.S.’s hopes of securing a men’s semifinal slot in a Grand Slam tournament after a 20-year drought.

Who are the key players involved?

The key players are Australian tennis player Rinky Hijikata and American tennis player Frances Tiafoe, along with potential future opponents Tommy Paul and Ben Shelton.

Why is this match significant for the U.S.?

The match is significant for the U.S. because if Hijikata loses, it guarantees a U.S. presence in the men’s semifinals of the tournament, increasing the chances for the U.S. to end a 20-year Grand Slam title absence.

What previous experiences does Hijikata bring into this match?

Rinky Hijikata brings experience from playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium in a prior U.S. Open, where he faced Rafael Nadal. He also has experience from collegiate tennis at North Carolina, where he was an All-American before turning professional.

How does Hijikata perceive his opponent, Frances Tiafoe?

Hijikata perceives Frances Tiafoe as an exceptional athlete with an impressive serve, acknowledging him as one of the emerging faces of American tennis. He anticipates that the crowd will rally behind Tiafoe.

How does Hijikata plan to handle the crowd’s partiality?

Hijikata is fully aware that the crowd will be against him. However, he intends to enjoy the experience as much as possible and draw upon his previous experiences in challenging atmospheres.

What is Hijikata’s tennis background?

Hijikata played college tennis at North Carolina, earning All-American status. He turned professional after his collegiate career. Earlier this year, he won the Australian Open doubles title with compatriot Jason Kubler.

Who are Hijikata’s tennis idols?

Hijikata’s idols include Australian Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 U.S. Open champion, and Kei Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up. He aims to emulate their tenacity and fighting spirit.

What is the source of the original article?

The source of the original article is AP Tennis, accessible via their website.

More about Rinky Hijikata U.S. Open

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Rachel G September 2, 2023 - 10:34 pm

I remember Tiafoe almost made it last year. So close! This year could be his, but Hijikata seems like a wild card, should be good to watch.

Timothy D September 2, 2023 - 11:46 pm

I cant believe it’s been 20 years since the US won a mens Grand Slam. It’s time for that to change, and Tiafoe might be our best hope!

David L September 3, 2023 - 12:35 am

If Hijikata wins, it would be a massive upset. But hey, that’s why we watch sports, for the unexpectd moments!

Chris O'Neil September 3, 2023 - 12:58 am

When you play against a local fav, the crowd can get to you. I wonder how Hijikata’s gonna handle it, espec when Tiafoe is pumping up the crowd.

Sarah Williams September 3, 2023 - 2:38 am

I’m so excited for this match! Hijikata vs Tiafoe is like the clash of the Titans. both are great but my heart is with Tiafoe. Go USA!

Mike Jenson September 3, 2023 - 7:15 am

Wow, never heard of Hijikata till now. This should be an intresting match. Tiafoe has a solid fan base in the US, gonna be tough for the Aussie.

Emily Q September 3, 2023 - 12:25 pm

Didnt know Hijikata played college tennis at North Carolina. That might actually help him. College sports can be rowdy as heck, so he’s used to the noise.

Linda K September 3, 2023 - 2:24 pm

Hijikata’s got his work cut out for him. facing Tiafoe, and possibly other Americans later on? He better bring his A-game.


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