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12 Qualifiers Make Main Draw of Rolex Shanghai Masters

12 Qualifiers Make Main Draw of Rolex Shanghai Masters
October 3, 2023

"Beware the qualifier" is a common phrase in professional tennis and it seems especially apt at the Rolex Shanghai Masters as players successfully completed impressive qualifying campaigns.

There was smooth progress for the No.1 seed, Rinky Hijikata, who claimed a straight sets win over Zimbabwe's Benjamin Lock in an efficient 80 minutes. 

A Rolex Shanghai Masters main-draw debut continues a period of impressive momentum for the 22-year-old Australian, who progressed to the fourth-round of the recent US Open. 

The confidence showed as Hijikata fired up his big serve and groundstrokes at Qi Zhong Stadium, with a pair of aces featuring among the many winners he recorded in a 6-1 6-4 victory over Lock. 

By contrast, Aleksandar Kovacevic, the No.2 seed in qualifying, fought for almost two-and-a-half hours to overcome Australia's Li Tu.

The world No.117-ranked American eventually recorded a 6-2 6-7(8) 7-5 over Tu who saved three match points in the second set, to earn the chance to contest the main draw of Asia's only ATP Masters 1000 tournament for a first time. 

It's an opportunity that James Duckworth, a world No.138 from Australia, equally relishes after he defeated countryman James McCabe in the final round of qualifying.

"I've played here twice before," Duckworth said after his 7-6(6) 6-2 victory. "It was ages ago, 2013 and 2014, and both times I actually lost last round in qualies, so it was nice to finally qualify. It was a tough match and I'm happy to be through."

Duckworth is especially happy to be rediscovering his best tennis in his comeback from hip surgery early in the 2022 season. The 31-year-old Australian has also required shoulder, elbow and foot surgeries throughout his career.

It adds to the significance of Duckworth's Rolex Shanghai Masters breakthrough. "It's been a battle to get the ranking back up. That's just what I'm trying to do right now, and this win definitely helps," he said. 

Dane Sweeny is another Australian who will debut at the tournament, following a 6-2 6-1 victory over Seongchan Hong of South Korea.  Adding to the Aussie tally was Philip Sekulic who beat Frenchman Arthur Weber 6-4 6-3.

It was a successful day for Kazakhstani players in Shanghai, with Mikhail Kukushkin, Denis Yevseyev and Beibit Zhukayev all advancing into the main draw. 

Chun-Hsin Tseng, Yu Hsiou Hsu, Stefano Napolitano and Terence Atmane were also among players to claim final-round wins as qualifying was completed on Tuesday. 

Rolex Shanghai Masters begins at the Qi Zhong Tennis Center on Wednesday.

There are 96 players competing in the upgraded ATP Masters 1000 tournament, which was last staged in 2019. 

Rolex Shanghai Masters qualifiers 

Dane Sweeny (AUS) d Seongchan Hong (KOR) 6-2 6-1 
James Duckworth (AUS) d James McCabe [AUS) 7-6(6) 6-2 
Rinky Hijikata (AUS) v Benjamin Lock (ZIM) 6-1 6-4
Philip Sekulic (AUS) d Arthur Weber (FRA) 6-4 6-3
Aleksandar Kovacevic (USA) d Li Tu (AUS) 6-2 6-7(8) 7-5
Stefano Napolitano (ITA) d Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-7(3) 6-6(6) def
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) d Luke Saville (AUS) 6-3 6-3
Denis Yevseyev (KAZ) d, Tung-Lin Wu (TPE) 6-4 4-6 6-3
Beibit Zhukayev (KAZ) d Dominik Palan (CZE) 7-6(6) 3-6 6-3  
Terence Atmane (FRA) d Steven Diez (CAN) 7-6(2) 6-2      
Chun-Hsin Tseng (TPE) d Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3
Hsu Yu Hsiou (TPE) d Sun Fajing (CHN) 6-7(1) 6-3 6-1

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