Duckworth, Popyrin set up Paris Masters showdown
An all-Australian third-round showdown is set at the Paris Masters, with James Duckworth to meet Alexei Popyrin.
James Duckworth’s stellar form is continuing at the Paris Masters.
The 29-year-old Australian moved into the third round with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory against rising Italian teen Lorenzo Musetti at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament.
World No.55 Duckworth served 11 aces and was only broken once in a two-hour and four-minute clash.
This is Duckworth’s 21st tour-level victory of the season and his 14th win from his past 19 matches. It also matches Duckworth’s career-best result at ATP Masters 1000 level, having advanced to the third round at Miami and Toronto as well earlier this season.
Duckworth now plays fellow Australian Alexei Popyrin for a place in the quarterfinals.
Popyrin, who snuck into the draw as a lucky loser, was leading 4-2 when world No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas retired in their second-round match with a right arm injury.
It is only the second time during his career that 23-year-old Tsitsipas has retired mid-match.
“It’s not easy to just stop,” Tsitsipas said. “It hurts a lot not to be able to play at the level that I’m expected to play.”
This also matches world No.71 Popyrin’s career-best result at ATP Masters 1000 level, with the 22-year-old making third round appearances at Miami and Madrid earlier this season too.
Duckworth and Popyrin have met twice before, splitting results.
Popyrin won their most recent meeting, in a qualifying match at Tokyo in 2019, and has also won six of his past seven matches against a fellow Australian, which includes a first-round victory against Alex de Minaur this week.
Duckworth also has a good record against Aussie opponents, winning four of his past five encounters.
For the winner of their third career showdown, a first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal is the reward.
John Peers and Slovak partner Filip Polasek are already through to the doubles quarterfinals in Paris, advancing with a 7-6(2) 6-4 victory against Serbian wildcards Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic.
The sixth-seeded duo are one of the most in-form teams on tour, having won 15 of their past 18 matches.
Aussies in action – Paris
Men’s singles, second round
James Duckworth (AUS) d [LL] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-3 3-6 6-3
[LL] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d  Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 4-2 ret.
Men’s doubles, second round
 John Peers (AUS)/Filip Polasek (SVK) d [WC] Novak Djokovic (SRB)/Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-6(2) 6-4
Men’s singles, third round
James Duckworth (AUS) v [LL] Alexei Popyrin (AUS)
Men’s doubles, quarterfinals
 John Peers (AUS)/Filip Polasek (SVK) v TBC