Serve and Swing: Millman's Formula for Alexei Popyrin to Topple Novak Djokovic

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

by Jovica Ilic
Serve and Swing: Millman's Formula for Alexei Popyrin to Topple Novak Djokovic
© Morgan Hancock / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Alexei Popyrin will play the match of his life against Novak Djokovic in the second round of the Australian Open. Two rivals will battle on Wednesday night at Rod Laver Arena, with Popyrin trying to stun the world's best player and a ten-time champion.

Freshly retired John Millman never found a way to break Novak Djokovic's code, losing all three matches against the Serb without taking a set. Millman discussed Popyrin's chances against Djokovic, advising the young gun. John pointed out Alexei's powerful serve, a weapon he missed against Novak in their duels.

Encouraging Popyrin to unleash his shots with full force, Millman contends that adopting an aggressive approach is the key to disrupting Djokovic's rhythm and creating a genuine opportunity for victory. Alexei made a winning start after a 6-3, 7-6, 6-2 triumph over Marc Polmans in two hours and 28 minutes, prevailing in the second set and outplaying his rival in the first and third.

Popyrin saved all three break points and grabbed four breaks from 11 chances, which was enough to go through in straight sets. The Sydney native implemented aggressive tennis, firing 56 winners and hoping for a similar outcome against the world's best player.

John Millman advised Alexei Popyrin ahead of the Novak Djokovic clash.

The defending champion Djokovic had to dig deep in his first-round clash, ousting an 18-year-old Croat Dino Prizmic 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in four hours.

The young gun fought like a lion on his Major debut, fending off six match points and showing his rich talent. Novak did not feel well, struggling in the most extended exchanges and grappling with his first-serve effectiveness.

However, he did enough to emerge at the top without spending more time on the court, taking 40% of the return points and delivering eight breaks from 17 chances. Dino broke Novak four times, taking the second set but falling short in the fourth after a massive battle.

Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2024© Kelly Defina / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

Djokovic made a reliable start before Prizmic raised his level in the second set, clinching the tie break 7-5 for an enormous boost of confidence.

The third set brought nine games and still lasted 70 minutes, with two rivals pushing each other to the limits. Novak clinched it 6-3 and grabbed back-to-back breaks at the beginning of the fourth for a huge 4-0 lead. Dino pulled one break back and saved six match points, giving everything to extend the battle.

However, Djokovic converted the seventh match point in the tenth game, moving over the top and hoping for a better performance against Popyrin. "I never figured out how to beat Novak Djokovic, and I have no idea how to do that.

Unlike me, Alexei possesses a massive serve. Also, he is very confident and feels relaxed and fresh. Alexei must come out swinging; that's the only way to defeat Novak. You have to get him off the court with powerful strokes," John Millman said.

Alexei Popyrin Novak Djokovic Australian Open