AAP Tennis

Sydney teenager in Open qualifying success

By AAP Newswire

Unheralded Sydneysider Rinky Hijikata has pulled off an upset win over Swiss world 102 Henri Laaksonen to lead the local charge at Australian Open qualifying.

Play continued on Thursday free of the choking smoke haze that has dogged the opening rounds and caused unrest amongst players.

Hijikata, ranked No.734, was leading the first-round clash against his Swiss opponent 3-0 in a first set tiebreak when thunderstorms stopped play at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old wildcard picked up where he left off, closing out the match 7-6 (7-0) 7-6 (7-3) on Court 13.

"I think this is definitely the biggest win I've had to date," Hijikata said.

"Just with the level of the opponent and how big a tournament this is and how much it means to me to play here.

"It helped that I was up 3-0 in the breaker coming off, it would probably be a different story if I'm down, but I just tried to focus on what I could do and tried to come out firing.

"It gives me a lot of confidence, I think I've proven that I can play at the level, but to come out to and get through that shows that I can close out these matches now."

Hijikata will play Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor in the second round on Friday.

With delays caused by smoke haze and wild weather, Thursday's schedule was a busy one as tournament officials scrambled to get three rounds of qualifying completed before the main draw gets underway on Monday.

Hijikata was of the success stories on a mixed day for the local contingent.

Max Purcell overcame 13th-seeded Italian Gianluca Mager 6-3 4-6 6-4 and Aleksandar Vukic downed German Matthias Bachinger 6-4 6-3 on the men's side.

In the women's draw, Storm Sanders defeated American Robin Anderson 6-2 6-0 and Destanee Aiava outlasted Russian 16th seed Varvara Flink 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 to advance.

But Kaylah McPhee, Olivia Rogowska, Jaimee Fourlis, Belinda Woolcock, Blake Mott and Luke Saville all bowed out.

Sixteen players from both the men's and women's entries will advance to the main draw.