Tennis: Alexei Popyrin took a tight first set 7-5, and as Dominic Thiem's injury issues began to surface the Australian took advantage to win the second set 6-4 but Thiem would retire in the third set.
Alexei Popyrin won the first two sets before Dominic Thiem called it quits.Source:AAP
Teenager Alexei Popyrin has never have had a night like it as a display of blistering power and patience saw the Sydneysider through to the third round at the expense of the seventh seed on a vocal and partisan Melbourne Arena.
Two sets and a break up in the third, the giant Aussie was beginning to believe it could be his day when a clearly out of sorts Dominic Thiem – the victim of another upset against Tennys Sanderson on the same court a year ago – called Popyrin to the net and called it quits.
The Austrian, who played a five setter early into the Wednesday morning, later said his whole body had been hurting and he had been feeling weak all match.
Alexei Popyrin won the first two sets before Dominic Thiem called it quitsSource:AAP
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Popyrin was leading 7-5 6-4 2-0 at the time and did not dwell on the his opponent’s malaise, this was a performance not just of skill and mettle but of sufficient menace to more than worry his upcoming third round foe, France’s Lucas Pouille.
From start to untimely finish the seemingly nerveless Popyrin, who bases his game on his idol, the similarly built Juan de Potro, served with great fortitude and accuracy but it was his forehand that stood out, nearly every ball that Thiem served up smacked back deep and into the corners. It’s some weapon.
Nor did the occasion faze him.
It’s the first time since 2004 Australia has had multiple men and women into that stage of the tournament. Popyrin, who won the French Open boys title in 2017, looked fearless despite his inexperience.
Dominic Thiem gets some treatment before retiring against Alexi Popyrin.Source:Getty Images
“It was unreal. I really enjoy playing on these big, big stadiums with massive crowds. I didn’t really feel much pressure, I just wanted to go out there and enjoy the moment,” the victor said.
In tandem, as Popyrin grew in comfort, the unwell Thiem visibly wilted, smashing his racquet into the ground at 5-6 in the opening set with a ferocity not seen in his legitimate play.
Warned by the umpire, he lost his serve to love and the set within a run of 13 consecutive points to Popyrin, who was only in tournament courtesy of a wild card from Tennis Australia.
The $155,000 prizemoney for reaching round three almost exactly matches his career winnings to-date.
“I’ve got to keep it in tennis. I’m not going to go berserk with the money,” he said.
There will be much more to come.