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Tennis: Thompson, Hijikata reach Queen’s quarter-finals

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Jordan Thompson and Rinky Hijikata both moved through to the quarter-finals of the Queen’s Club Championships in London early on Thursday morning (AEST).

Few saw their performances coming this week, as all eyes were on another Australian.

Ahead of the tournament beginning on Monday, tennis bookmakers had Alex de Minaur as second favourite to win the ATP 500 event. The world No.7 had just claimed his second grass-court title at the Libema Open and was in fine form.

Only defending champion Carlos Alcaraz was ahead of the Aussie No.1 in the outright betting.

However, with de Minaur falling in the first round, Thompson and Hijikata are now flying the Australian flag in London instead.

Thompson benefits from Murray injury

Thompson will be delighted to make the quarter-finals at Queen’s, considering he came to London on a five-match losing streak.

However, he won’t be too pleased with the way in which he advanced on Thursday.

Up against British legend Andy Murray, just two points into the match it became apparent all was not well with the 37-year-old.

Murray was suffering from significant pain in the right side of his back. While he valiantly pushed on for five games, the former No.1’s movement was severely restricted.

It was a tough watch for a British crowd who had come out in hope of seeing of their man win a sixth Queen’s title this week.

At 4-1 in the first set, Murray called time and retired injured.

“It was pretty sore in my match yesterday,” Murray said afterwards.

“Yeah, it was sore through today. But I was able to manage it. I wasn’t comfortable playing, but I was able to manage it.

“During my pre-match warmup, I was pretty uncomfortable, and then I walked up the stairs just before going on the court, I didn’t have the usual, just normal strength in my right leg.

“It was not a usual feeling.

“I don’t know how many of you were watching, but the first two balls I hit in the warmup, my right leg, it was so uncoordinated. I had no coordination.

“Right leg just was not working properly.”

Hijikata made to work hard against Arnaldi

Hijikata had a very different route to the quarter-finals.

Having already moved his way through qualifying to make the main draw, the 23-year-old played two tie-break sets against Matteo Arnaldi in the round of 16.

The straight-sets match took over two hours to complete, finishing 7-6 (0), 7-6 (7) as Hijikata came up clutch at the back end of each set. The world No.98 was out-hit by 37 winners to 20 but kept his unforced errors to only five across the match.

Despite their efforts to get this far, online bookmakers have both Thompson and Hijikata as heavy underdogs to win the Queen’s title. Thompson has the fifth line of betting at $17, while Hijikata is back on the 10th at $41.

The pair will face Taylor Fritz and Sebastian Korda respectively in the quarter-finals on Saturday morning.

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