'Astonishing': Rising Aussie pulls off 'unbelievable' Open upset

Chris Young
·4-min read
Australia's Alexei Popyrin celebrates his victory against Belgium's David Goffin in the first round of the Australian Open. (Photo by BRANDON MALONE/AFP via Getty Images)
Australia's Alexei Popyrin celebrates his victory against Belgium's David Goffin in the first round of the Australian Open. (Photo by BRANDON MALONE/AFP via Getty Images)

Alexei Popyrin has become the latest Australian player to spring a first-round upset at the Australian Open, with the wildcard entrant sending 13th seed David Goffin home early.

The 21-year-old saved four match points to prevail in a five set thriller, toppling the highly-regarded Belgian star 3-6 6-4 6-7(4-7) 7-6(8-6) 6-3 in a brutal match which ran for just over four hours.

‘TERRIBLE SITUATION’: Australian Open rocked by scary ball boy incident

‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN’: Backlash over Novak Djokovic question

Things got off to an inauspicious start for Popyrin, who had his serve broken in the first game of the match.

But after dropping the first set, Popyrin fired back convincingly in the second and Goffin soon had a fight on his hands.

There were several moments where it appeared as though a valiant effort from Popyrin wouldn’t be enough to topple the world No.15 - but backed by a vocal band of supporters on Court 3, Popyrin began to fight back after falling behind two sets to one.

Popyrin was first able to shake off a quad complaint which needed to be treated briefly when he was down 5-3 in the fourth set.

Yet he found a way to come back, staving off two match points to force a tiebreaker, where he once again fought off two more match points to win the set and square the ledger at two sets each.

Goffin won the first two games of the fifth set before being broken by Popyrin, who seized the momentum to claim a gutsy victory.

The crowd erupted when Popyrin eventually prevailed, with the 21-year-old enjoying undoubtedly one of the best victories of his fledgling career.

The 2017 French Open junior champion has reached the third round of the Australian Open for the last two years, and will benefit from facing an unseeded opponent in the second round.

Big day for Australian Open’s local hopes

Australia's other winner early on day two was fellow wildcard Chris O'Connell, who upset German world No.37 Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-5) 6-1.

But fellow Australian Aleksandar Vukic went down 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to Russian No.19 seed Karen Khachanov.

Women's wildcard Astra Sharma blew a golden chance to advance to the second round.

Chris O'Connell became the sixth Australian player to win through to the second round of the Australian Open, defeating. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)
Chris O'Connell became the sixth Australian player to win through to the second round of the Australian Open, defeating Jan-Lennard Struff. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

The 25-year-old dominated the opening stages of her round-one clash with Nao Hibino and looked on track for a comfortable win.

But the Japanese baseliner was able to reverse the momentum, going on to win 2-6 6-3 7-5 in one hour and 57 minutes.

Maddison Inglis took the fight up to defending champion Sofia Kenin in Tuesday's opening match on Rod Laver Arena before bowing out 7-5 6-4.

There were 14 Australians scheduled for singles action on day two at Melbourne Park.

With AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.