Rome, Italy, 10 May 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Alexei Popyrin has emerged triumphant in an all-Australian showdown at the Italian Open.

The 23-year-old qualifier posted a 6-2 7-6(5) victory against Chris O’Connell in opening-round action at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament.

Popyrin fired 10 aces and won 86 per cent of first-serve points in the 95-minute encounter.

This victory snaps a six-match losing streak for Popyrin against fellow Australians and propels the world No.77 into a second-round meeting with 10th-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Thanasi Kokkinakis is also through to the second round at the clay-court event, advancing when Spanish opponent Jaume Munar retired after six games due to a back injury.

Kokkinakis, who had earned his place in the draw through qualifying, was leading 4-2 at the time.

The world No.104 now faces eighth seed and home-town favourite Jannik Sinner in the second round.

Popyrin and Kokkinakis join Alex de Minaur, who received a first-round bye, in the second round. The last time three Australian men progressed to this stage in Rome was in 1983.

Jason Kubler has a chance to boost this number to four, which would be a 43-year high, when he plays his first-round match tonight.

Aussies in action – Rome

Men’s singles, first round
[Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d Chris O’Connell (AUS) 6-2 7-6(5)
[Q] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d Jaume Munar (ESP) 4-2 ret.

Men’s singles, first round
Jason Kubler (AUS) v Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI)

Men’s singles, second round
[17] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
[Q] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v [8] Jannik Sinner (ITA)
[Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v [10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)

> VIEW: Italian Open men’s singles draw

Men’s doubles, first round
[7] Matt Ebden (AUS)/Rohan Bopanna (IND) v [WC] Federico Arnaboldi (ITA)/Gianmarco Ferrari (ITA)
Alex de Minaur (AUS)/Jason Kubler (AUS) v Sebastian Baez (ARG)/Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP)
John Peers (AUS)/Nathaniel Lammons (USA) v [6] Lloyd Glasspool (GBR)/Harri Heliovaara (FIN)

> VIEW: Italian Open men’s doubles draw

Women’s doubles, first round
[4] Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) v Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)/Alicja Rosolska (POL)

> VIEW: Italian Open women’s doubles draw

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