Popyrin's Confidence Soars as Novak Djokovic Melbourne Clash Looms

Alexei Popyrin will challenge Novak Djokovic in the second round of the Australian Open

by Jovica Ilic
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Popyrin's Confidence Soars as Novak Djokovic Melbourne Clash Looms
© Morgan Hancock / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

The home favorite Alexei Popyrin will face world no. 1 Novak Djokovic at Rod Laver Arena in the second round of the Australian Open! Alexei took down Marc Polmans 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 in two hours and 28 minutes, arranging his second clash against world no.

1, the first in over four years. Popyrin is ready for the most challenging Australian Open test, finishing in straight sets today and preserving energy. The Aussie will prepare for the Djokovic clash like any other, knowing how well he has to play to topple a ten-time champion.

Popyrin will step on the court positively, believing in his chances in front of the home fans. Alexei praised Novak as the greatest player ever, with no weaknesses in his game. However, he will try to impose his weapons and harm a 24-time Major winner.

Popyrin played well against Polmans, toppling his compatriot in sets one and three and prevailing in the second to seal the deal in straight sets.

Alexei Popyrin, Australian Open 2024© Morgan Hancock / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

The Sydney native cracked 20 aces and defended his second serve nicely, rejecting all three break points and keeping the pressure on the other side.

Polmans could not respond in his games, facing 11 break points and suffering four breaks to end his campaign in the first round. Alexei stroked 56 winners and had the upper hand in the shortest, mid-range and most extended rallies.

Popyrin grabbed a break in the encounter's first game after a lucky net cord return winner and denied a break chance in the next one with a massive forehand down the line winner. Alexei closed the fourth game at 15 to remain in front and fired a service winner at 3-2 for a hold at love.

Polmans stayed in touch after that early setback, landing a volley winner in the seventh game and staying within one break deficit. Popyrin landed a forehand drive-volley winner in game eight, moving 5-3 in front and wrapping up the opener with another break in game nine after a smash winner.

Alexei Popyrin is ready to challenge Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.

Alexei grabbed one good hold after another in the second set, maintaining the pressure on the other side. Marc held after deuces in the fourth game, painting a forehand down the line winner and locking the result at 2-2.

Popyrin landed a backhand winner in game five and hit a smash winner at 3-3 to keep his serve intact. Marc saved a break point in game eight, and they served well in the rest of the set to introduce a tie break. Polmans hit a loose forehand in the seventh point, and Popyrin created three set points with two winners on his serve.

Alexei seized the first, forging two sets to love advantage and moving closer to the finish line. Popyrin pushed strong on the return in the third game of the third set, converting the fourth break chance and controlling the scoreboard.

Alexei faced two break points in the sixth game, struggling on serve for the first time in over two hours. He denied the first with a booming serve, and Marc missed a routine backhand on the second. The better-ranked player gained a boost and painted a backhand down the line winner in game seven, delivering a break and serving for the victory at 5-2.

Popyrin climbed back from 0-30 and grabbed four straight points to seal the deal and arrange a cracking Novak Djokovic clash on Wednesday. The Serb had to work hard to kick off the title defense with a win, prevailing over Dino Prizmic 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in four hours and one minute.

An 18-year-old gave everything against the world's best player, challenging him in the most advanced exchanges and defending six match points. Djokovic did not feel at his best physically, dealing with a minor illness and struggling in most extended rallies.

However, he changed that in the fourth set, leaving his opponent behind and avoiding an even more extended marathon.

Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Djokovic grabbed 40% of the return points and turned them into eight breaks from 17 opportunities.

Prizmic responded with four breaks on his tally, fighting like a lion and earning compliments from world no. 1. Novak held everything under control in the opener before they embraced a massive battle in set number two. The Croat stayed in touch with the Serb and claimed the tie break 7-5 to level the overall score.

Djokovic prevailed in the third set after 70 minutes and raced into a 4-0 lead in the fourth. Dino pulled one break back and defended six match points before Novak seized the seventh, moving into the second round.

"I won in straight sets today and will have enough time to recover.

Facing Novak is not different from other matches, even though he is world no. 1. My serve will be crucial, but I must do everything well to stand a chance. I must bring a positive mindset, believing I can beat him. Novak is the greatest player in history, with no weaknesses. However, I can harm him with great weapons in my game," Alexei Popyrin said.

Novak Djokovic Alexei Popyrin Australian Open
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