Melbourne, Australia, 19 January 2023 | Darren Parkin

Alexei Popyrin has produced one of the biggest wins of his career, as his resurgent form continued at Australian Open 2023.

Popyrin charged into the third round at Melbourne Park for the third time in his career, winning another five-set marathon 6-7(4) 7-6(2) 6-4 6-7(6) 6-2 over world No.9 Taylor Fritz.

It is Popyrin’s second win over a top-10 player this month, having earlier defeated world No.6 Felix Auger-Aliassime in Adelaide.

“It’s important to go into matches thinking you have the game to beat these guys and I believe I do,” Popyrin said.

“It’s really important to have that in your mental game … I wouldn’t have said that last year.”

It was a first set dominated by good serving and big hitting, with both players combining to win 83 per cent of points on first serve whilst blasting 30 combined winners for the set.

Only one break point was created during that opening set, which Fritz closed out with a strong tiebreak performance.

In the second set, Popyrin was able to pry the door open for the first time, creating three break points in the sixth game of the set, but Fritz dug his way out of that hole to keep things on serve.

The second ended up in another tiebreak and this time Popyrin dominated, racing to a 5-0 lead before closing it out 7-2 with a mighty roar to the crowd.

Popyrin struck 19 winners in the second set, won 84 per cent of points on first serve and created the only break point chances in the set as his confidence began to grow.

The 23-year-old Australian kept ramping up the pressure early in the third set, eventually landing the first break of the match to take a 2-1 lead, before holding to love in the very next game.

Popyrin’s third set was a serving masterclass with the world No.113 remarkably winning all 20 points off his own serve. He struck 13 winners and made only three unforced errors as he played near flawless tennis against the American.

The fourth continued in much the same fashion until, seemingly out of nowhere, Popyrin dropped serve at 3-4 40-15, opening the door for Fritz for the first time in over an hour.

When his head might have dropped, Popyrin instead knuckled down and willed himself to immediately break straight back to stay in the set.

The subsequent tiebreak was a rollercoaster, with Fritz leading 5-3 before Popyrin peeled off three straight points to set up match point for the first time at 6-5.

But Fritz won the next three points to take it 8-6 and level the contest at two-sets apiece.

The deadlock was broken in the fifth set when Popyrin played a superb reflex volley at the net to reach 0-30 on the Fritz serve in the fourth game.

He would go on and land the match winning break and send the John Cain Arena crowd into raptures.

There was no stopping Popyrin from there, as he steamrolled through the remainder of the fifth set to close it out 6-2 with another break of serve.

As chants of ‘Poppy’ reverberated around the stadium, the Australian choked back tears as he tried to sum up what the moment meant to him.

“It’s incredible. It’s crazy. This win means so much to me,” Popyrin said.

“I had the toughest year last year. I didn’t win many matches; in fact, I’ve won as many matches this year as the whole of last year.”

An off-season built on hard work has been the catalyst for Popyrin to win six of his eight matches so far in January.

“This pre-season I put my head down and worked as hard as I possibly could. I urged myself to keep working and keep pushing and I’m doing that in matches,” he said.

“I love this feeling and I want more of this feeling.”

Popyrin will now take on American surprise packet Ben Shelton, a 20-year-old ranked world No.89 and enjoying a dream Australian Open debut, as he looks to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time in his career.

“I’m going to do exactly what I did after the first match. I’ll take a day off tomorrow and recover. Ice bath, food, massage, stretching and do everything to be in great shape for the next challenge,” he said.

AUSSIES IN ACTION – Australian Open

Men’s singles, second round
[WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d [8] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-7(4) 7-6(2) 6-4 6-7(6) 6-2

Women’s singles, second round
Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE) d [WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) 6-3 6-2

> READ: Aussies advance in AO 2023 doubles

Men’s singles, second round
[22] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Adrian Mannarino (FRA)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v Andy Murray (GBR)

Men’s singles, third round
[WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v Ben Shelton (USA)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2023 men’s singles draw

Book online, play today: Visit to get out on court and have some fun!