Alexei Popyrin charged past Andrei Bublik in Singapore to capture his maiden ATP Title, just the latest in a string of good-news gems for the 21-year-old Australian. The kid nicknamed “Popy” is rising fast on the coattails of a massive serve and unusually balanced all-court game.
If you like to see points finished at the net, watch Alexei Popyrin.
With the Singapore trophy, Popyrin climbs to a career-high ranking of World #82. Only less than a month ago, Popyrin won a five-set match for the first time ever. The Sydney native fought off a stunning four match points on the way to upsetting David Goffin in the first round of the Australian Open. Popyrin said his cardio work in the extended preseason probably tipped the match in his favor.
“The last time I lost a five-set match in the third round, I couldn’t walk for two days,” he said after the match, referring to his 2019 Australian Open loss to Luca Pouille. “It was tough to really work out during lockdown, and I gained a few kilos. I kind of lost all my physicality that I had,” Popyrin said, adding: “The first four weeks of preseason, was to focus on my cardio and the way I feel on court in longer durations.”
At 6’5” and around 175 lbs, the thin and lanky Popyrin is deceptively powerful. His serve speeds reach in excess of 130 mph (211 km), according to Grand Slam statistics by Infosys.
He looks to play first strike tennis by wounding his opponent with deep and angled groundstrokes. But Popyrin also has blazing footspeed to run down drop shots and soft touch when needed to execute them for himself. His volleys are solid and penetrating.
He could be classified as an all-court player in the vein of Roger Federer, simply without the experience and polish of the Maestro just yet.
Popyrin’s coaching situation was in flux in 2020 but seems to have stabilized as he continues to train at the Patrick Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France.
Other than his powerful serve, one of the most noticeable things about Popyrin from the baseline is impeccable footwork that allows him to run around to hit forehand. That’s his modus operandi from the baseline–damage first with the forehand and look to hit forehand from almost all zones on the court.
Popyrin seeks out short balls and readily approaches the net. With a killer overhead and technically sound volleys, he exercises patience and comfort in the front court. Popyrin works well with combos of volleys and overheads at the net, as opposed to looking to end the point immediately upon approach.
Popyrin has been ousted twice at Grand Slams by Daniil Medvedev. He’ll have to solve that riddle if he wants to break into the elite ranks of the ATP Tour. Very similar in build to Medvedev, Popyrin does not carry the “disruptor” badge that Medvedev does–you know exactly what you’re getting with the Australian. But Popyrin’s touch and speed make him capable of pulling out any surprise arrow from the quiver.
In 2020, Popyrin was notably concerned about Covid-19. He opted not to travel to New York to play the 2020 U.S. Open out of concern for the virus. For a player hovering around 100 in the world, that’s a big decision, knowing the prize money the Grand Slams dole out.
It shows the young Popyrin is patient, socially conscious and willing to play the long game with his career. The 2021 Australian Open offered him a wild card–something he may never need again if he continues his winning ways on the ATP Tour.
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