Adelaide, Australia , 3 January 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Alexei Popyrin has made an impressive start to the 2023 season, notching three wins at this week’s Adelaide International.

The 23-year-old Australian successfully navigated his way through the qualifying competition, beating two higher-ranked opponents to earn a main-draw spot.

Popyrin continued that momentum to stun world No.6 Felix Auger-Aliassime in the opening round yesterday, scoring a 6-4 7-6(5) victory against the second-seeded Canadian.

“(It was a) really good win for me, especially coming off last season where I only had five wins on the circuit. For me it’s a very, very important win,” Popyrin acknowledged.

> READ MORE: Popyrin scores biggest career win in Adelaide

Popyrin’s difficult 2022 saw him tumble down the rankings. From a career-high of world No.59 in November 2021, he slipped as low as world No.131 and finished the season with a 5-17 win-loss record in ATP Tour events.

“I had a few niggles, a few injuries here and there that didn’t help my year, and it all became a rollercoaster downwards,” Popyrin explained. “I was losing matches. Confidence was going down. Practices weren’t going great.”

Yet the world No.120’s improving self-belief has been evident in Adelaide this week.

“I don’t want to talk about last year anymore. We’re only going to look forward to this year, and the work that we’re doing right now is really, really good,” Popyrin said.

“The people I have around me are really, really great. I love my whole team, and my family are behind me to support me on every move, and that for me is the most important thing.”

The Roland Garros 2017 junior champion credits new coach Xavier Malisse, a former top-20 player from Belgium who joined his team in October, for his recent improvement.

“He’s been a great addition for me. He’s really kind of re-teaching me how to play tennis but in a more calm way,” Popyrin said.

Their focus has been “to become a little bit more solid”.

“(We’re) trying not to give away as many errors as I usually do when I play, especially last year,” Popyrin said. “Still utilising my strengths, which I think everybody knows what they are, but at the same time, not get too panicky when I’m on the defense.”

Popyrin continues his Adelaide International campaign against Marcos Giron, a 29-year-old American ranked world No.61, in the second round.

They have played once before, with Giron scoring a three-set win during the qualifying rounds at last year’s Canadian Masters.

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Popyrin is hoping to advance to his third career tour-level quarterfinal – and first since February 2021, when he captured his maiden ATP title in Singapore.

“Look, I’m not anywhere near the top right now, but I fully believe that if I continue along the path that I’m going in right now, then I have a chance of getting there,” said Popyrin, who has received an Australian Open 2023 wildcard.

“There will be a few bumps along the road. There will be a few bruises along the road too. For me, it’s just about learning, always learning, and trying to get to the top as quick as I can.”

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