Alexei Popyrin powers into US Open second round
Australian Alexei Popyrin has combined power with gritty composure to advance to the second round of the US Open 2022 men's singles competition.
Alexei Popyrin has combined power with gritty composure to advance to the second round of the US Open for the third time in his career.
The Australian hit 10 aces and 28 total winners as he outclassed rising Chinese Taipei player Tseng Chun-hsin 6-3 7-6(5) 7-6(3) in two hours and 41 minutes.
The straight-sets progression provided a welcome confidence boost for world No.84 Popryin, who exited in the qualifying rounds of his two previous tournaments at Montreal and Cincinnati.
Tseng, by contrast, had warmed up with a first ATP-level main-draw win at Winston-Salem and peaked at a career-high world No.83 earlier this month.
But while Popyrin has progressed to the US Open third round in both of his previous appearances, Tseng was debuting at the hard-court major. The 21-year-old contested his maiden Grand Slam main draw at Australian Open 2022.
The contrasting experience showed as a determined Popyrin applied pressure in key moments of today’s match – most critically when he saved a set point in the 11th game of the second set, and recovered from crucial deficits in the third set.
After opening with a double fault, Popyrin soon had his big serve and solid forehand firing. Securing a break of serve in the eighth game, he went on to secure the first set in 37 minutes.
There was composure under pressure for Popyrin as Tseng secured a break for a 3-1 second-set lead but failed to consolidate. Popyrin also fought back when his younger opponent held a set point in the 12th game.
An aggressive approach drew critical errors from Tseng, Popyrin securing the set in the tiebreak.
The young players exchanged service breaks twice more in the 59-minute third set, Popyrin recovering from a 2-4 deficit and digging in as he saved two break points in an extended 11th game.
A steely Popyrin also maintained his nerve after Tseng took a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak, the Australian winning five straight points to eventually secure victory on his second match point.
It sets up a second-round meeting with No.14 seed Diego Schwartzman.
Earlier today, James Duckworth overcome fellow Australian Chris O’Connell in a four-set battle. It is Duckworth’s second career main draw victory at Flushing Meadows – and first since 2016.
While 21-year-old Aussie wildcard Rinky Hijikata made an impressive Grand Slam main draw debut, fearlessly pushing world No.3 Rafael Nadal to four sets in a thrilling Arthur Ashe Stadium clash.
It marked the first time that Nadal had lost a set against a wildcard at Grand Slam level since his loss to a teenage Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon eight years ago. The second seed bounced back this time, eventually triumphing 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3 in three hours and seven minutes.
Aussies in action – US Open
Men’s singles, first round
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d Tseng Chun-hsin (TPE) 6-3 7-6(5) 7-6(3)
James Duckworth (AUS) d Chris O’Connell (AUS) 4-6 7-6(0) 6-2 6-3
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) d [WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3
Women’s singles, first round
[Q] Yuan Yue (CHN) d [WC] Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) 6-3 6-2
Men’s singles, first round
Jason Kubler (AUS) v Mikael Ymer (SWE) 5-7 6-4 6-2 1-2 to finish
Men’s singles, second round
 Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Cristian Garin (CHI)
 Nick Kyrgios (AUS) v Benjamin Bonzi (FRA)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v  Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
James Duckworth (AUS) v  Dan Evans (GBR)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v [Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL)
Women’s singles, second round
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) v Evgeniya Rodina
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