Popyrin fights back to score quarterfinal berth in Tokyo
Australian Alexei Popyrin will make his fourth tour-level quarterfinal appearance for 2023 at the Japan Open.
Two Australians will feature in the Japan Open quarterfinals, after Alexei Popyrin and Alex de Minaur both scored second-round victories.
A set and a break down, Popyrin elevated and took control against Chilean qualifier Cristian Garin to score a tight three-set victory at the ATP 500 event in Tokyo.
The Australian battled for two hours and 56 minutes to claim the 4-6 7-6(3) 6-2 win and advance to his fourth tour-level quarterfinal for the 2023 season.
After missing four break point opportunities in the second set, the world No.41 eventually took his chance to force the set to a tiebreak and then a decider.
“I was just banking on the fact that one of these games I would be able to break him and luckily it came at 4-3 in the second set – and then I managed to pull away,” Popyrin said, crediting his ability to mentally stick in the match.
“I feel I was in control from that moment.”
In the third set Popyrin asserted himself, taking his ace total to eight for the match whilst winning 57 per cent of his return points.
“I’ve had a lot of battles this year so it’s good to come out on the right side (of one),” he said.
“For me it’s a dedication to the hard work that I’ve done to physically make it through a three-hour, three-set match.”
The win sets up a quarterfinal meeting with local wildcard Sho Shimabukuro, who stunned top seed Taylor Fritz in the second round.
In the following match on the Ariake Coliseum, fellow Australian De Minaur made a statement in his second-round win over Argentine Diego Schwartzman.
The fourth seed started hot with a dominant opening set, winning 26 out of a possible 36 points – before a more competitive second set saw De Minaur prevail 6-0 7-5.
“I’m probably most proud of how I stayed composed out there,” the 24-year-old said as he put himself into his 10th quarterfinal of the season.
“I kept my head together and composed myself.”
With a long 63-match season so far, the Australian has had his “best year to date”.
“I finished very late (last year) and I started very early (this year),” De Minaur noted.
“All I have to do is keep my head down and keep working.”
Aussies in action – Tokyo
Men’s singles, second round
 Alex de Minaur (AUS) d Diego Schwatzman (ARG) 6-0 7-5
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) d [Q] Cristian Garin (CHI) 4-6 7-6(3) 6-3
Ben Shelton (USA) d Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4
Men’s doubles, quarterfinals
Max Purcell (AUS)/Rinky Hijikata (AUS) d [WC] Sho Shimabukuro (JPN)/Yosuke Watanuki (JPN) 7-6(6) 6-4
Men’s singles, quarterfinals
 Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Aslan Karatsev
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v [WC] Shintaro Mochizuki (JPN)
Men’s doubles, semifinals
Max Purcell (AUS)/Rinky Hijikata (AUS) v  Marcelo Arevalo (ESA)/Jean-Julien Rojer (NED)
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