Stefanos Tsitsipas wasted little time in reaching the third round at the Australian Open on Wednesday when he moved past Australian wild card Rinky Hijikata 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 to continue his title quest.
The Greek, who is a three-time semi-finalist in Melbourne, was in control throughout the one-hour, 32-minute clash against Hijikata. He constantly overpowered the World No. 169 with his fierce ball striking, hitting 30 winners on Rod Laver Arena.
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“It felt good out there,” Tsitsipas said. “The ball was coming out of the racquet really well. I really enjoyed myself, I was great for the entire match. I always enjoy playing on the Rod Laver Arena, I have some good memories here.”
The 21-year-old Hijikata managed to stem a seven-game losing streak at the start of the third but never looked like producing the day’s second shock after reigning champion Rafa Nadal was earlier knocked out by American Mackenzie McDonald.
"Crikey – that was a rip-snorter, mate!" 🤪
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Stefanos Tsitsipas could become world number one if he wins Australian Open
Tsitsipas could become world number one if he claims his first Grand Slam title by winning the Australian Open.
In round three he will face a Dutch opponent, either 32nd seed Botic van de Zandschulp or Tallon Griekspoor.
He has been ranked as high as world No. 3 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), which he first achieved on 9 August 2021, making him the highest-ranked Greek player in history alongside Maria Sakkari.
Tsitsipas was the champion at the 2019 ATP Finals, becoming the youngest winner of the year-end championships in eighteen years.
He has won nine ATP singles titles (including two Masters 1000 championships) and appeared in a major final at the 2021 French Open, finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic. He is also a three-time semifinalist at the Australian Open.
Earlier on Wednesday Greek sixth seed Maria Sakkari avoided a shock as she fought back to beat Russian teenager Diana Shnaider in the Australian Open second round.
Shnaider, 18, is still to join the professional ranks as she plays in the American college system, but threatened an upset by winning the first set.
But Sakkari regrouped to win 3-6 7-5 6-3, taking her third match point.