Brisbane, Australia, 31 December 2023 | Leigh Rogers

Alexei Popyrin has survived a spirited challenge from fellow Aussie Chris O’Connell to make a winning start to his Brisbane International campaign.

The world No.40 needed three hours and five minutes to carve out a 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(4) victory at Pat Rafter Arena this afternoon.

“That’s a battle for the last match of the year,” Popyrin said.

“But what a battle it was. Oaks (O’Connell) played unbelievable and I had to really keep my level high to be able to win this match.

“If I didn’t keep my level, if I didn’t keep my focus, I would have lost this match easy. He played unbelievable and if he continues playing like this, he’ll do big things this summer for sure.”

> READ: O’Connell sets sights on top-50 breakthrough

Popyrin, who entered the clash with only a single win from his past 10 matches against an Australian opponent, was proud of his mental resolve under immense pressure.

“I had a lot of opportunities in the third set to be able to go up a break and he played some unbelievable points, served some unbelievable bombs,” the 23-year-old said.

“I kept my focus, kept positive and just came through in the tiebreak. That’s what we were working on this year a lot.”

Popyrin’s second-round opponent is yet to be decided. It will be either world No.17 Ben Shelton, the tournament’s third seed, or world No.39 Roman Safiullin.

In men’s qualifying singles action, two Australians upset higher-ranked opponents to earn main-draw spots.

Li Tu, a 27-year-old from Adelaide, recorded his second ever top-100 win. The world No.225 posted a 6-3 7-6(5) victory against Daniel Elahi Galan, a Colombian ranked No.93, to qualify at an ATP 250 tournament for only the second time in his career.

James Duckworth, who trains at the Queensland Tennis Centre, secured his main-draw spot with a 6-1 7-6(2) win over world No.84 Gregoire Barrere.

It’s been a day to remember for Australian competitors, with Arina Rodionova also notching her biggest win in almost four years in the women’s singles competition.

> READ: Rodionova scores top-50 victory in Brisbane

Aussies in action – Brisbane International

Men’s singles, first round
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) Chris O’Connell (AUS) 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(4)

Men’s qualifying singles, final round
[9] James Duckworth (AUS) d [2] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 6-1 7-6(2)
Li Tu (AUS) 
d [3] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-3 7-6(5)

Women’s singles, first round
[WC] Arina Rodionova (AUS) d Martina Trevisan (ITA) 6-3 6-2

Men’s doubles, first round 
Max Purcell (AUS)/Jordan Thompson (AUS) d [WC] Rafael Nadal (ESP)/Marc Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-4

Women’s doubles, first round
[WC] Daria Saville (AUS)/Daria Kasatkina d Lidziya Marozava/Monica Niculescu (ROU) 6-2 6-4
Anastasia Potapova/Yana Sizikova d [WC] Talia Gibson (AUS)/Priscilla Hon (AUS) 7-6(2) 7-6(2)

Men’s singles, first round
Jordan Thompson (AUS)
 v Aleksandar Vukic (AUS)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v [WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS)
Max Purcell (AUS)
 v [1] Holger Rune (DEN)
[WC] Jason Kubler (AUS) v [8] Aslan Karatsev
[Q] James Duckworth (AUS) v J.J. Wolf (USA)
[Q] Li Tu (AUS) v Daniel Altmaier (GER)

Men’s singles, second round
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) v TBC

> VIEW: Brisbane International 2024 men’s singles draw

Women’s singles, first round
[WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) v [Q] Olivia Gadecki (AUS)
[WC] Daria Saville (AUS) v [Q] Dayana Yastremska (UKR)

Women’s singles, second round
[WC] Arina Rodionova (AUS) v [14] Sofia Kenin (USA)

> VIEW: Brisbane International 2024 women’s singles draw

Men’s doubles, first round 
John-Patrick Smith (AUS)/Andreas Mies (GER) v Maxime Cressy (USA)/Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
[WC] James Duckworth (AUS)/Chris O’Connell (AUS) v Matteo Arnaldi (ITA)/Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG)

Men’s doubles, second round
[4] Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Jason Kubler (AUS) v TBC
[6] John Peers (AUS)/Harri Heliovaara (FIN) v Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)/Sebastian Korda (USA)
Max Purcell (AUS)/Jordan Thompson (AUS) v [5] Nikola Mektic (CRO)/Hugo Nys (MON)

Women’s doubles, second round
[WC] Daria Saville (AUS)/Daria Kasatkina v [2] Chan Hao-Ching (TPE)/Giuliana Olmos (MEX)

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