Tennis 2023: Aussie Alexei Popyrin beats Felix Auger-Aliassime in stunning Adelaide upset

Aussie tennis gun Alexei Popyrin has claimed the biggest scalp of his young career, knocking World No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime out of the Adelaide International in the first round.

Popyrin had an absolute shocker of a season last year, winning just five from 22 matchers on the ATP Tour and dropping from a career high of World No. 59 to a low of World No. 131.

He is currently ranked No. 120.

But coming up against the 2022 Australian Open quarterfinalist and second seed, Popyrin made short work of the Canadian in a 6-4 7-6 win in Adelaide.

The result was the third time Popyrin has claimed a win over a top 10 player, but first in a result that was a retirement. He previously had wins over then World No. 8 Dominic Thiem at the 2019 Australian Open after the Austrian retired injured in the third set, and then World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Paris Master in a first set retirement in 2021.

“Pretty happy,” he said. “Obviously an unbelievable feeling.

“I had a really tough season last year and to come out in the third match of the year for me because I had to come through qualifying, but first main draw match of the year and to beat a player of his quality just shows that the work I put into the off-season is paying off already at the start of the year.”

Popyrin said he had been in the top 100 before and claimed an ATP title in the past, adding: “I’m only 23 so I have plenty of time.”

Although the loss will be a blip on the radar for Auger-Aliassime in his first match of the year, it’s huge for Popyrin.

The Aussie did play in all four grand slams last season but was out in the first round of all but the US Open where he was bundled out in the second round.

Popyrin had shrugged the difficult year off however, having fired 11 aces and bounced back from 4-1 down in the second set.

Tennis TV called it: “A BREATHTAKING display”.

It wasn’t the only upset of the day either as fifth seed and World No. 11 Holger Rune was ousted Yoshihito Nishioka 2-6 6-4 6-4.

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