Alexei Popyrin advances at Miami Open after 'horrendous' injury drama
The Aussie moved on to the second round after Michael Ymer was forced to retire hurt.
Alexei Popyrin has advanced to the second round of the Miami Open in unfortunate circumstances after opponent Mikael Ymer was forced to retire after suffering a brutal ankle injury. Popyrin had taken the opening set 7-6 (7-5) before his Swedish rival went down after rolling his ankle during the second set.
Ymer was screaming in agony as he lay on the court, with leading tennis journalist Jose Morgado describing the situation as "horrendous scenes". Ymer managed to continue the match but called it quits at 4-4 in the second set, handing his Aussie opponent a spot in the second round where he will play World No.93 Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands.
'VERY SAD': Tennis fans left gutted over news about Iga Swiatek
'AMAZING': Tennis world delighted over Martina Navratilova update
"It's really tough, I think this was one of the tougher ones I've had in my career," Popyrin said of his win. "He was not trying on my serve, completely letting the ball go past, and then serving and moving quite well on his serve. It was quite a strange one for me, but I think at the end it was bad and he was really struggling."
Ymer wasn't the only injury retirement at the ATP 1000 event on Wednesday, with Gael Monfils and Amanda Anisimova also pulling out mid-match. Monfils' latest setback comes as a brutal new blow for the French veteran, who appears to be on the final leg of his career. Anisimova is also trying to regain some of her past form but has struggled with injury and inconsistency in recent years.
Popyrin was the lone Australian to win in Miami on Wednesday, with countryman Aleksandar Vukic unable to keep his form going from qualifying. Vukic lost to Laslo Djere of Serbia 6-2 7-6 (7-3), while Storm Hunter fell 6-0 7-6 (7-5) to 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the opening round of the women's comp.
Four more Aussies will be in action in the round of 128 after Chris O'Connell and Thanasi Kokkinakis, who both lost in the final round of qualifying, were promoted into the main draw after several late withdrawals. They will join World No.70 Jason Kubler and qualifier Jordan Thompson in playing first-round matches on Thursday.
Kokkinakis will play Belgian wildcard Zizou Bergs, O'Connell faces French veteran Richard Gasquet, Kubler takes on Brazil's World No.81 Thiago Monteiro, while Thompson will be up against Alex Molcan of Slovakia. World No.18 Alex de Minaur will get his campaign underway in the second round, with Australia enjoying its highest representation in a Miami Open men's singles draw since 2001.
He is trying to finish the match despite not moving...
Not sure if it's smart...
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) March 22, 2023
🇸🇪 Mikael Ymer tumbling heavily on his left ankle screaming in pain vs. 🇦🇺 Alexei Popyrin trailing 6-7, 2-2 - Round 1 Miami Open. Now receiving a medical time out.
Will continue. #TheFirstServe pic.twitter.com/HWFcAl1jGP
— The First Serve (@TheFirstServeAU) March 22, 2023
Ouch, ouch ouch #injury
— Marie Richards (@MarieRi67286356) March 22, 2023
Mikael Ymer barely can move, but still refuses to retire, what a tuff guy.
— ATP wet dreamz (@atp_wet_dreamz) March 22, 2023
Bad news for GB as Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray lose
The news wasn't so good for Great Britain on Wednesday as Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray both lost in the first round. Raducanu lost 6-3 3-6 6-2 to Bianca Andreescu in battle of former US Open champions, while with two-time Miami winner Andy Murray went down 6-4 7-5 to Serbia's Dusan Lajovic.
"I thought it was a very good match from both sides. I think Emma played really well. I think the key for me was just sticking with it, fighting as much as I could," said Andreescu. "I kept telling myself it's not over until it's over and I also stayed positive. I tried not to drain my energy too much with focusing on emotions and all that stuff."
Murray said of his loss: "Some days you don't hit the ball your best but my movement (also) wasn't quite there. I've been practising pretty well. It's a very different court, very bouncy and much faster than last week (at Indian Wells), very different to the practice courts and...I just struggled a bit."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.