Popyrin produces stunning upset on great day for Australian men
Australia’s Alexei Popyrin produced one of the biggest upsets of the Australian Open first round after stunning 13th seed David Goffin in five sets.
The Sydney product saved four match points on his way to a 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-3 win in front of a boisterous court three crowd.
It’s the third consecutive year Popyrin has reached the second round at his home grand slam. Now he has sent a top seed packing, he is well placed to make a run into the second week. He will face South African Lloyd Harris on Thursday.
Popyrin isn’t looking any further ahead than his clash with the world No.91, but the 21-year-old is not slated to face a seeded opponent in the third round, either.
Popyrin’s brilliant win came on a very successful day for Australia’s men, as Alex de Minaur and Chris O’Connell also progressed.
De Minaur, the 21st seed, faced eccentric American Tennys Sandgren. After a tight first set, the Australian took control and finished with a comfortable 7-5, 6-1, 6-1 win.
‘I was able to get through the first-set nerves, loosen up a bit and then play some of my best tennis. Very happy with that.’
“First of all, I’m extremely happy to be back here. I genuinely missed you guys and it feels so good to be back playing here,” de Minaur said.
“I was able to get through the first-set nerves, loosen up a bit and then play some of my best tennis. Very happy with that. I’m happy to be in the second round. Hopefully I can keep it going.”
De Minaur has been guilty of allowing opponents back into matches in recent years. He didn’t give Sandgren a chance on Tuesday.
“A big thing with me is to try and stay in the moment, stay focused and try to win every point out there. I did that today and didn’t let my opponent back in the match,” he said.
“I played some great tennis in the second and third set and saved the legs. I was able to apply pressure when I needed to, I loosened up at the end and I stayed solid. It was a great first round match for me. On to the next one.”
The “next one” will be Pablo Cuevas – the Argentinian who shot to social media stardom during hard quarantine.
“It will be a very tough match, a very gruelling match. He’s a very solid and skilled player. It’ll be tough but hey, I’m just happy to be back,” de Minaur said.
O’Connell’s straight-sets win followed a similar trajectory.
The Sydney product – who won his first ATP Tour level match at the US Open last year – claimed the first and second sets in tie-breakers before breaking the shackles to cruise home in a 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-1 win.
O’Connell is also well placed to finish with a career-best result at his home slam as 12th seed Roberto Bautista Agut – who was the Australian’s projected second round opponent – was stunned in four sets by Moldova’s Radu Albot.
“The more I play these type of events, the better I feel out there, the more confident and calm I feel out there,” O’Connell said.
“Because it’s a different environment, different atmosphere … that’s why we play tennis, to play grand slams, to get to win first rounds of grand slams. It’s just awesome. Unbelievable feeling.”
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