Tsitsipas eases past Hijikata at Open

With his first grand slam in his sights, Stefanos Tsitsipas has made light work of livewire local wildcard Rinky Hijikata to cruise into the Australian Open third round.

Tsitsipas was all business as he handed the 21-year-old a lesson in a slick 6-3 6-0 6-2 victory in just an hour and 32 minutes on Wednesday.

With plenty of support in the stands, the 24-year-old relished maintaining his impressive unbeaten summer after also enjoying a strong United Cup campaign.

“It felt good out there,” he said.

“The ball was coming off the racquet really well so I enjoyed myself tonight. It was great throughout the entire match.

“Always a pleasure playing on Rod Laver Arena. I get some good memories here.

“When I have a strong sensation, whenever I’m back here it feels like home.”

Hijikata endeared himself to local fans with his gutsy five-set opening round win over Yannick Hanfmann and earned himself a Rod Laver Arena debut but had no answers for the No.3 seed.

Tsitsipas, who is attempting to break his grand slam duck in Melbourne, ripped through the first set in 35 minutes then turned in a ruthless second set, needing just 25 minutes to set up victory.

He dominated the final set too, breaking Hijikata in the third game, while he didn’t drop a point in his final two service games.

To his credit, Hijikata never dropped his head.

Australia’s Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt said Hijikata’s first-round loss to Rafael Nadal at the US Open, then facing Tstisipas were “priceless” experiences.

“This is what the (young Australians) have to enjoy, to strive to get these opportunities,” he said.

“Rinky out here playing one of the best players in the world in Tsitsipas. It is an unbelievable experience.

“This is why all the hard work is done in the off-season, to be able to win matches at your home grand slam and get to play the very best players in the world.”

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