• Jordan Thompson in action at the US Open (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Rugby League tragic Jordan Thompson can't believe he's qualified for a grand slam second week before seeing his beloved Wests Tigers in another NRL finals series.
5 Sep 2020 - 3:56 PM  UPDATED 5 Sep 2020 - 3:56 PM

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Thompson earned the biggest pay day and biggest opportunity of his career after powering into the fourth round of the US Open in New York with a 7-5 6-4 6-1 dispatch of Mikhail Kukushkin.

Thompson's victory earned the Sydneysider at least a US$250,000 (A$343,000) cheque and a last-16 crack at Croatian Borna Coric on Monday.

But, unable to celebrate his career breakthrough in Manhattan while under lock and key in the grand slam bubble, Thompson will instead wake up early to tune in to the Tigers' must-win clash with Manly on Saturday night.

Thompson was still a teenager the last time the Tigers made the finals in 2011.

"Honestly, I thought the Tigers would get to a finals series before I made fourth round of a grand slam, so I'm not holding my breath," the 26-year-old said.

In another clean serving display, Thompson struck 10 aces, only two double-faults, landed 65 per cent of his first deliveries and was broken just twice in seeing off Kukushin in straight sets.

"It was a good day at the office," he said.

"There's a big pay day, obviously - fourth round and US dollars. I haven't checked to see how much it is but I assume it's a good chunk and probably the most I've ever earned.

"So I couldn't be happier about that."

Closing in on a return to the world's top 50, he mixed 26 winners with 24 unforced errors compared to the Kazakh's 44, which mostly came from the baseline while trying to stay in rallies with the Australian.

In progressing to the round of 16 for the loss of only two sets, Thompson's run betters his third-round showing at last year's French Open, which bodes well ahead of next month's clay court slam in Paris - LIVE on SBS.

But he could go further yet.

Coric will be backing up from a gruelling 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-4) upset win over Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Croatian was on court for more than four and a half hours, with the match finishing after one o'clock in the morning.

"I feel like I've got nothing to lose. It's another opportunity that I'm just happy to be there and I'll give it my all as I always do," Thompson said.

Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur has the chance to join Thompson in the fourth round on Sunday when he plays Russian 11th seed Karen Khachanov.