Hijikata win sets up Tsitsipas Open clash

Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata has lined up a crack at world No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open second round after pulling off a stirring five-set comeback victory in his main-draw debut.

Hijikata appeared set for a quick exit when he lost his first two sets against German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann but fought back to prevail 4-6 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in front of a parochial crowd.

"I'm lost for words. That was mental," Hijikata said after the four-hour, 25-minute escape.

"I don't really know what to say at the moment.

"I couldn't have done it without the support today. I'm so grateful for everyone coming out. That is the most fun match I've ever played in my life."

Tsitsipas started his own Open in style, downing Frenchmen Quentin Halys in straight sets but Hijikata is unlikely to be unnerved by the big occasion on Wednesday.

The excitement machine lit up Arthur Ashe Stadium in taking the first set against Rafael Nadal in the first round of the 2022 US Open.

Hijikata relished the vocal crowd on Court 8, consistently revving them up as he manufactured a comeback, then took control.

The 21-year-old spurned his first two match points on serve but sealed his third.

Hijikata fell to the ground then punched the air and celebrated with the crowd.

Tsitsipas posted a convincing 6-3 6-4 7-6 (8-6) victory over Halys as the 24-year-old searches for his first major title.

The Greek third seed has been stopped three times in the semi-finals at the Open while his best grand slam result is reaching the final at Roland Garros in 2021.

With world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz missing, nine-time champion Novak Djokovic battling hamstring trouble, top seed Rafael Nadal playing below par and hometown heavyweight Nick Kyrgios pulling out with a knee injury, it could be the year for Tsitsipas to break through at Melbourne Park.

"I was happy, I came up with some good tennis," Tsitsipas said on court.

"I wasn't going to give up and showed my fighting spirit .

"I really like being back here playing tennis, it feels like home and I have great support."

Tsitsipas lost focus temporarily in the third, twice losing his serve, but managed to level to send the set to a tense showdown.

Up 6-5, world No.61 Halys had four set points after Tsitsipas trailed 0-40 on serve but he couldn't close it out with the pair heading to a tiebreak.

Halys went ahead 3-0 and then 4-1 before the Greek stormed back to take victory with his second match point.

Tsitisipas stays unbeaten this summer after four impressive wins at the United Cup.