Rinky Hijikata’s breakout US Open run has come to an abrupt end with a straight-sets fourth-round beating at the hands of 10th seed Frances Tiafoe. A semi-finalist last year, Tiafoe charged to within a victory of another last-four showing in New York with an impressive 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 victory over the Australian wildcard.
Hijikata’s service speed was noticeably down from his previous three rounds, with Tiafoe having little trouble picking it off and breaking the 22-year-old six times during the two-hour encounter.
Utterly dominant, the American conceded only 13 points on his own serve in setting up a quarter-final with unseeded countryman Ben Shelton, who had earlier beaten Tommy Paul in four sets.
“It means a lot,” Tiafoe said. “He’s been quietly going through the draw and I’ve never played him before so I was definitely feeling him out in the beginning. When I broke there in the first [set], I really took off there for a while. At the end I got a bit sloppy.
“But I’m just happy to get through and into a quarter-final at the Open.”
Hijikata’s foray to the last 16 at a grand slam for the first time earned the Sydneysider $US284,000 ($A440,000) and a rankings boost from No 110 in the world to a career-high 81st.
That puts Hijikata in line for a direct entry to the Australian Open in January and gives Australia nine men in the top 100 even without the injured Nick Kyrgios. Only powerhouses the USA (11) and France (11) have more.
“It’s been pretty cool to see how all the other Aussie guys and girls have been supporting me and each other,” Hijikata said. “We’ve got a really good group of guys at the moment. I feel like we are all pushing each other to get better.”
Hijikata’s exit leaves world No 13 Alex de Minaur as Australia’s last remaining singles hope at Flushing Meadows. De Minaur plays third-seeded 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday (AEST) for a place in the quarter-finals.