Popyrin qualifies for first Wimbledon
A four-set win over Bjorn Fratangelo has sent Alexei Popyrin into the main draw at Wimbledon, a "dream come true" for the Aussie teenager.
Alexei Popyrin on Thursday won his third match at Roehampton to seal a place in the Wimbledon main draw.
Seeded fourth in the qualifying tournament, the 19-year-old Aussie completed his path to the All England Club thanks to a 6-3 7-6(6) 6-7(4) 7-6(6) over American Bjorn Fratangelo.
Later in the day, his compatriot Arina Rodionova joined him as a successful qualifier after beating another American, Danielle Lao, in three sets to book her spot in the women’s draw.
But in between, compatriots Jason Kubler and Andrew Harris went down in the final round.
Kubler fought back from 5-3 down in the third set to win it and moved ahead two sets to one, before eventually losing to Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-3.
Harris, having reached the final round of a Grand Slam qualifying event for the first time, lost 6-2 6-4 6-4 to No.1 seed Corentin Moutet of France.
Popyrin was leading by set and a break, before a loose eighth game in which he double-faulted twice saw Fratangelo get the set back on serve.
From there, the match was a tightly-contested affair, punctuated by absorbing rallies and some huge serving from both.
But it was Popyrin’s delivery – which resulted in 26 aces to Fratangelo’s 13 and a higher first-serve winning percentage – that proved the difference in a match dominated by tiebreaks.
“I think I did pretty well on my serve so that really helped. I think I was holding my serve pretty comfortably throughout the third and fourth sets. It was just a couple of points here and there in both tiebreaks and in the fourth set they went my way,” he said.
“Hopefully (I can cause some damage in the main draw). I think going into any tournament I can cause damage. Especially on grass, I feel it suits my game so hopefully I can cause some damage.
“(It’s) definitely a dream come true. I did it the hard way today but definitely happy to be in the main draw.”
Popyrin, who begun working with 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash following the French Open, has shown a willingness to attack the net throughout the grass-court season.
He qualified for the main draw in Stuttgart and pushed former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic to a third-set tiebreak in the main draw. With his three wins in Wimbledon qualifying, he has now won five of his seven grass-court matches in 2019.
He brought up match point against Fratangelo with a somewhat mis-hit running forehand lob winner and sealed victory with a backhand volley winner.
19-yo Alexei Popyrin makes it into the main draw. Could be the last time that we see him in the qualifying draw of a Slam for quite a while. pic.twitter.com/EsKjztzYXM
— Philip Mardh (@TheTennisGuru) June 27, 2019
“That wasn’t a top-spin lob – that was more of a framed lob,” he laughed.
“It’s going great (with Cash). He’s been really helpful, as you can see – I lost a couple of points at the net but I think I won most of them. So he’s definitely been helpful and it’s great to have him in my corner. And he’s just a great motivator.
“Definitely (it’s more satisfying to qualify). It feels more real; getting wildcards to Aussie Open and French Open, I thought I deserved them.
“But going through qualifying, going through the hard way, I think it was a great achievement for me.”