Popyrin, Bolt advance at Australian Open
In a first on-court meeting with his childhood idol, Alexei Popyrin overcomes an injured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Australian Open 2020.
Alexei Popyrin has enjoyed another milestone win in his burgeoning tennis career, downing former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the Australian Open first round.
Tsonga, the 28th seed, withdrew from the match injured on Tuesday night when he was trailing the 20-year-old Australian 6-7 (5) 6-2 6-1.
Popyrin, ranked world No.96, had a strong run in last year’s Australian Open, beating two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem en route to the third round.
The Sydneysider had mixed feelings after the match, recalling how he fondly watched Tsonga’s extraordinary run to the 2008 decider at Melbourne Park.
“I’ve never felt this way after a match,” he told Channel Nine.
“Seeing him make the final here, I remember him jumping around like a crazy kid.
“So seeing him hurt, seeing him in pain, having to retire for this match was just painful.
“He’s amazing. Everything about his game, you know, big serve, big forehand and his attitude on court.”
Despite only just sitting inside the top 100, Popyrin has been a consistent early performer in grand slams, last year winning at least one match in all four majors.
While many of his contemporaries choose to build up rankings points on the secondary tour, Popyrin has consistently battled away to get into the best tournaments, finishing 2019 with the most number of wins through qualifying (11) to get into the top tier events.
Popyrin will play the winner of the Hugo Gaston-Jaume Munar match in the second round.
BOLT IS THROUGH!⚡
A️nother Aussie in a five-set cracker, Bolt moves on to the 2nd Round.
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 21, 2020
Bolt’s big win
In an outstanding day for Australian men in their home Grand Slam, there was also a stunning victory for wildcard Alex Bolt.
The left-hander secured an Australian Open second round berth with a five-set upset win over Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Tuesday night.
Bolt prevailed over the world No.42 7-6 (7-1) 1-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-4 in a match lasting almost three and a half hours.
Ranked world No.140, the South Australian made the third round at Melbourne Park last year.