Hijikata battles past Eubanks in men’s clay court

Tennis

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HOUSTON — Rinky Hijikata defeated fifth-seed Christopher Eubanks in his first career clay-court match at an ATP Tour event in the first round of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship on Monday night.

Hijikata won 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) in the match with two tiebreaks.

“Just managed to get through there. It wasn’t looking good for a while,” Hijikata said. “I think Chris didn’t miss a first serve for a long, long time and I wasn’t touching too many serves or making any. I’m just glad that I kind of just hung around long enough and managed to come up with a few good points when I had to.”

The Australian, who is ranked No. 80 in the ATP rankings won 79% of his first-serve points.

“(I am) pretty resilient,” he said. “There are a lot of things that can go wrong in clay-court tennis, especially when I feel like both of us haven’t played too much on it So I’m just trying to learn as much as I can, try and adapt, and then you learn how to try playing on this as well as I can. I’m just looking forward to the next one.”

He moves on to face American Brandon Nakashima, the 2022 ATP Finals champion. Nakashima didn’t lose serve in a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Croatian Dude Ajdukovic.

Also on Monday, Belgian Zizou Bergs got a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over American Patrick Kypson.

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