Melbourne, Australia, 10 May 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Hard work has helped Alexei Popyrin recorded some impressive results in his career.

He peaked at world No.2 in the ITF junior rankings and became the first Australian in 49 years to win a Roland Garros boys’ singles title in 2017.

Earlier this season, the 24-year-old achieved a career-high ranking of world No.38 in the ATP Tour singles rankings.

Popyrin reflects on some of his most memorable practice experiences and shares advice for aspiring players in our Train with the Pros series.

Do you have a preferred time of day to practise?

I would say morning, around 10 or 11am. Then I get the practice out of the way, and I can enjoy the rest of my afternoon. That’s if I’m only doing one practice for the day. If we have two, then I’m pretty much blocking out the day. I’d practise at 10am or 11am, then again at 3pm or 4pm.

What is the favourite part of your game to practise?

I like to practise my weapons – my serve, my forehand. I probably should practise my weaknesses more, but my weapons are more important for me right now.

What is the least favourite part of your game to practise?

I’d say cardio. Working on my movement and timed drills that get the heart rate rising, that’s not too fun.

How do you like to structure your practice sessions?

I like playing points. I’ve always reacted the best to playing points, it helps me raise my level a lot in practice. So, any drill that we do, we try to implement a points structure to it. That way I subconsciously raise my level and intensity.

What has been the most memorable practice session you’ve had?

One of the first practices I had with a top-10 player was with Stan Wawrinka when I was about 17 or 18 years old. I remember comparing how good my game was compared to his – and I was quite a way away.

You also had the opportunity to practise with Serena Williams when you were training at the Mouratoglou Academy in France. What was that experience like?

That was good. That was fun and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Not every day you get to practise with one of the greats of our sport. They way she hit the ball was amazing. It was harder than some of the men on tour, which was amazing to see.

What advice would you share with an aspiring player wanting to get the most out of a practice session?

I would say just to focus a lot. It’s not just about one practice session either, it’s about the consistency and buckling down to practise with full intensity every single day. Listening to your parents and coaches is also important.

Finally, if you had five minutes remaining in a practice session and could do anything you wish, what would you choose?

I’d walk off the court (laughs). Nah, I’d probably practise some forehands. I enjoy hitting running forehands and inside-out forehands, then finish with a few serves.

> READ MORE: From our “Train with the pros” series

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