Melbourne, Australia, 4 January 2022 | Leigh Rogers

Rinky Hijikata has scored the biggest win of his career to qualify at this week’s Melbourne Summer Set.

The 20-year-old Australian wildcard overcome world No.98 Henri Laaksonen in a two-hour and 30-minute battle during final qualifying round action at Melbourne Park today.

Hijikata demonstrated incredible grit to recover from a 2-4 deficit in the second set and then sensationally save a match point in the second-set tiebreak.

Despite almost letting a 4-0 advantage slip in the deciding set, Hijikata held his nerve to close out a 4-6 7-6(8) 6-4 victory against the second-seeded Swiss.

It is the world No.375’s career-first top-100 win and also the first time he has qualified for an ATP tournament.

Hijikata has been pitted against American Maxime Cressy, a fellow qualifier ranked No.112, in the opening round.

He joins fellow Australians Alexei Popyrin, Jordan Thompson and Chris O’Connell in the main draw of the ATP 250 tournament.

Nick Kyrgios was also meant to compete, but withdrew ahead of his scheduled first-round match this evening due to asthma. The 26-year-old Australian will be replaced in the draw by a lucky loser.

“I’m really sorry that I’ve had to pull out from this Melbourne Summer Set event,” Kyrgios said in a statement. “I have been feeling run down and unwell for four days. I have had several COVID tests over the last few days, which all came back negative.

“I don’t feel 100 per cent so I need to take this week to be ready for Sydney next week. I was really looking forward to experiencing the best fans in the world here at home. I can’t wait to get back out there and see you all. Take care out there and see you soon.”

Melbourne Summer Set – ATP 250

Men’s qualifying singles, final round
[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) d [2] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 4-6 7-6(8) 6-4

Men’s singles, first round
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v Stefano Travaglia (ITA)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v [WC] Chris O’Connell (AUS)
[Q] Rinky Hijikata (AUS)
v [Q] Maxime Cressy (USA)

> VIEW: Full men’s singles draw

Men’s doubles, first round
[8] Matt Reid (AUS)/Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Bye
Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Chris O’Connell (AUS) v Peter Gojowczyk (GER)/Andreas Seppi (ITA)

Melbourne Summer Set tickets are now on sale, with prices beginning at $19. Kids can attend for free.

> BUY NOW: Melbourne Summer Set tickets