Six Australians took to the courts of Flushing Meadows on day two of the US Open, with James Duckworth and Alexei Popyrin advancing to the second round, Christopher O’Connell, Jaimee Fourlis and Rinky Hijikata eliminated, and Jason Kubler with unfinished business to attend to on day three.
James Duckworth (AUS) def Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 4-6, 7-6(0), 6-2, 6-3
James Duckworth and Christopher O’Connell were the first Aussies to hit the courts of Flushing Meadows on Tuesday, going to battle in an all-Aussie affair on Court 9.
O’Connell was the first to draw blood, breaking Duckworth early and going on to claim the first set.
Very little separated the pair in the second set, with Duckworth lifting his level in a tiebreaker to ensure he didn’t fall two sets behind - taking it in emphatic style 7-0.
The 30-year-old never let go of the momentum from that point onwards, blazing away to take the third and fourth sets in quick succession, booking his place in the second round of the US Open for the first time since 2016.
“I really enjoy the aspect of just trying to get better. Trying to improve my game constantly,” Duckworth said in his post-match press conference.
“That gives me a lot of enjoyment, just improving.”
Next up, Duckworth will face Britain’s No. 20 seed Dan Evans in the second round.
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) def Chun-Hsin Tseng (TPE) 6-3, 7-6(5), 7-6(3)
There’s no doubting that 23-year-old Australian Alexei Popyrin has endured a tough year on tour in 2022. In a year where many predicted Popyrin would take that next step and elevate himself into the top 30 in the ATP Rankings, or perhaps reach the second week at a major, the Australian has struggled to find consistency on the tour, and has seen his ranking slip.
But the Aussie impressed majorly, putting on display his immense talent to overcome rising Taiwanese star Chun-Hsin Tseng in straight-sets in New York on Tuesday.
“It was a very important win,” Popyrin exclaimed in his post-match press conference.
“I haven’t had too many wins this year on the ATP Tour, so this was a good one for me. Honestly, all my slams have been tough losses. I’m just glad I got the job done out there, it wasn’t easy, that’s for sure.”
The Australian sent 15 aces and 46 winners past his 21-year-old opponent and won 23/27 net points in a promising display.
Popyrin will face No.14 seed Diego Schwartzman in the second round as he looks to extend his stay in New York.
Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) def by Yue Yuan (CHN) 3-6, 2-6.
22-year-old Australian, Jaimee Fourlis was unfortunately defeated in her US Open main draw debut on Tuesday.
The Victorian has enjoyed an outstanding breakout year on the tour - which earned her Australia’s reciprocal wildcard into the main draw of the fourth and final major of the season.
Those who had watched Yuan in qualifying would’ve known how difficult an opponent she was going to be for Fourlis, albeit the ‘qualifier’ tag next to her name on the scoreboard.
The 23-year-old from China took down Australian Maddison Inglis in the final round of qualifying, dropping just a singular game to book her place in the main draw. And she was able to carry over her solid form into the main draw, relatively unchallenged by Fourlis.
[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) def by  Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 3-6
21-year-old Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata went from a relatively unknown - to a very well known name as he lit up Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night.
The New South Welshman was rewarded for his breakout season with Australia’s reciprocal wildcard into the US Open main draw, and took it right up to 22-time slam champion Nadal - putting his incredible talent on display to the world.
Hijikata played lights out in the opening set, claiming it 6-4, but was unfortunately unable to carry the electrifying tennis he put on display into the second set, and was eventually overrun by Nadal - who hasn’t lost a match in New York since 2018.
One thing is for sure - Hijikata has a bright future and will no doubt be one to watch for the remainder of the season and beyond.
Jason Kubler (AUS) V Mikael Ymer (SWE) 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 2-1 (INTERRUPTED)
Queenslander Jason Kubler had his first round match in New York interrupted as rain began to pour over the courts of Flushing Meadows on Tuesday night.
Kubler lost a tight first set to Ymer in a baseline battle, but gained the momentum in the second set, blazing away to move two-sets-to-one up on Ymer.
Rain came down early in the fourth set and play will resume on Wednesday.