Stricker, Hijikata Headline Four Top 100 Breakthroughs
Following fourth-round appearances at the US Open, Dominic Stricker, Rinky Hijikata and Borna Gojo cracked the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time Monday. Thiago Seyboth Wild earned back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour titles to also make his Top 100 debut.
ATPTour.com reviews highlights from each player’s season to celebrate their breakthroughs.
The 21-year-old is the youngest Swiss to reach the milestone since 20-year-old Stan Wawrinka did so in 2005. A five-time ATP Challenger Tour champion, including two titles this year, Stricker made a splash at Flushing Meadows by stunning seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a five-set, second-round match. The lefty struck 78 winners throughout the four-hour, 10-minute encounter and maintained his form to make the fourth round, lifting him 38 spots to World No. 90.
Stricker will look to continue his surge to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals for a second consecutive year. A semi-finalist at last year's 21-and-under event, he is currently seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah.
The US Open will always hold special memories for the Australian. In 2022, he made his Grand Slam main-draw debut against 22-time major champion Rafael Nadal, who defeated Hijikata in four sets on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Fast forward a year, Hijikata reached the fourth round in New York, propelling him to World No. 82.
“It feels really good to be able to crack the Top 100. Obviously it’s been a big goal of mine for a while now and to finally be cemented in the Top 100 is pretty special,” Hijikata said. “I think it’s a big goal for everybody, getting automatic entry into the Grand Slams. I am looking forward to hopefully staying there and seeing how far up the rankings I can go.”
Since Hijikata turned pro in 2021 following two years at the University of North Carolina, he has collected two ATP Challenger Tour titles, both on home soil. The 22-year-old made a tour-level breakthrough this year at the ATP 250 event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch where as a lucky loser he reached the semi-finals.
“The Challenger Tour has been great for me. There’s so many quality players on the Challenger Tour and I honestly feel like the level isn’t too different between Challengers and ATP Tour events,” Hijikata said. “To make that transition is very important, to play Challengers and put yourself week in and week out against some quality players, just being able to back up good weeks week after week is hard to do and important.”
The 25-year-old advanced through qualifying at Flushing Meadows en route to the Round of 16, where he fell to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. At No. 77 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Gojo is the first Croatian since Borna Coric in 2014 to crack the Top 100.
“It’s really satisfying to crack the Top 100. Now it gives you even more motivation to push forward to go up the rankings as much as possible,” Gojo said.
Gojo's 19-9 Challenger-match record this season put him in prime position to reach the milestone at the season’s final major, where he started the tournament as World No. 105.
“I didn’t check the rankings that much. Mid-season, I started to check it a bit more and then now again, I wasn’t really checking. It just happened at the US Open with a very good tournament," said Gojo.
Thiago Seyboth Wild
Nobody boasts a better Challenger-match record this season than Seyboth Wild (38-9). The 23-year-old earned back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour titles (Como, Genoa) the past two weeks to surpass the Top 100.
“Challengers are tough to win and I am proud of what I have accomplished. Hopefully I can continue winning matches and bigger tournaments,” said Seyboth Wild, who has won four Challenger trophies this season. “The Challenger Tour has really helped me develop my game and to prepare for those bigger tournaments.”
Earlier this season, the Brazilian No. 1 advanced through Roland Garros qualifying and upset Daniil Medvedev in the opening round en route to a third-round appearance. He became the lowest-ranked player (then-No. 172) to beat a second seed in the first round at Roland Garros since 1998. The standout year has been a welcomed sight for Seyboth Wild.
“It feels great to be in the Top 100. I started the year outside the Top 400 so this is an important step for me,” World No. 76 Seyboth Wild said. “I’ve been working hard all year with my team and I hope to continue to climb the rankings.”