Rinky Hijikata is among four Australian players to qualify at this year’s BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
Indian Wells, USA, 8 March 2023 | Leigh Rogers
Four Australians – Thanasi Kokkinakis, Aleksandar Vukic, Rinky Hijikata and Kimberly Birrell – have qualified at Indian Wells.
It is the second year in a row that world No.94 Kokkinakis has qualified at the ATP Masters 1000 event. The 26-year-old sealed his spot in this year’s main draw with a 6-4 6-4 victory today against world No.115 Matteo Arnaldi.
Kokkinakis will face American wildcard Brandon Holt, the son of former world No.1 Tracy Austin, in the opening round.
Kokkinakis’ best result at the tournament, which is considered the biggest tour-level event outside of the four Grand Slams, is a fourth-round run as a wildcard in his 2015 debut.
World No.186 Vukic has qualified in the Californian desert for a second time, matching his 2021 effort.
The 26-year-old Vukic needed only 69 minutes to dismiss Italian Roberto Marcora 6-3 6-1 in the final qualifying round. This sets up a first-round showdown with three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka.
Hijikata is enjoying a memorable debut at ATP Masters 1000 level, qualifying with a 6-3 6-3 victory against two-time Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren.
The 22-year-old from Sydney now faces Sweden’s Mikael Ymer in the first round.
Although Alexei Popyrin lost in three sets to Japan’s Taro Daniel today, the world No.101 has received a lucky loser spot in the draw. Popyrin plays Chinese qualifier Zhang Zhizhen in the opening round.
Birrell is proudly carrying Aussie hopes in the women’s singles competition.
The 24-year-old qualified at a WTA 1000 tournament for the first time after posting a 6-1 2-6 6-3 win over Japan’s Nao Hibino in final qualifying round action today.
This improves world No.115 Birrell’s season record to 17 wins from 23 matches. Her first-round opponent will be decided later today following the completion of all qualifying matches.
Aussies in action – Indian Wells
Men’s qualifying singles, final round
 Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d  Matteo Arnaldi (ITA) 6-4 6-4
 Rinky Hijikata (AUS) d [WC] Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-3 6-3
Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) d Roberto Marcora (ITA) 6-3 6-1
 Taro Daniel (JPN) d  Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-4 4-6 6-1
Women’s qualifying singles, final round
 Kimberly Birrell (AUS) d Nao Hibino (JPN) 6-1 2-6 6-3
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