Top American Taylor Fritz beaten as Australian Open seeds tumble

Taylor Fritz Australian Open

It was a day of surprises at the Australian Open, with Taylor Fritz’s loss to home favorrite Alexei Popyrin perhaps being the biggest.

The wild card from Sydney beat the No.8 seed, and one of the favourites for the title, 6-7(4) 7-6(2) 6-4 6-7(6) 6-2, to reach the third round of his home slam for the third time.

His victory was received by raptures of applause from the crowd on John Cain Arena, as he lapped it all up in an emotional moment.

Popyrin had a very poor 2022, dropping 60 places in the rankings and winning only one Grand Slam match all year. The 23-year-old admitted that he had already won as many matches this year as the whole of 2022.

“You guys were just incredible. It’s just crazy, man,” said an emotional Popyrin to the Australian Open crowd in Melbourne, “I really couldn’t have done it without you guys. This win means so much to me. I had the toughest year last year, didn’t win many matches. I’ve won as many matches this year as I won the whole of last year and it’s only January.”

He continued, “Pre-season I put my head down and worked as hard as a I possibly could. I didn’t want that feeling that I had last year ever again. I love this feeling and I want more of this feeling. I want you guys to have this feeling more. This is a dream for me and I don’t want to wake up.”

Fritz was not the only seed to go out Thursday in the Australian Open with No.2 Casper Ruud, No.13 Alexander Zverev, No.14 Pablo Carreno-Busta, No.23 Diego Schwartzman, and No.30 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina also exiting the tournament.

The bottom half of the draw is now completely wide open, with only one seed left in the bottom quarter.

Many will suggest this betters Novak Djokovic’s chances of lifting a record tenth Australian Open. However, the Serb was clearly struggling with his hamstring in a four set win over Enzo Couacaud.

For Popyrin, he will look to continue his wave of success in his third round match against rising star Ben Shelton, who had never left the United States before this year. If the Aussie wins, he will achieve his best Grand Slam performance to date.

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