Stunning Lleyton Hewitt call as Aussie young gun wins first title
Young gun Alexei Popyrin has won his first ATP title and has vowed to follow Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt's blueprint to success in the future.
The 21-year-old Sydney star won the Singapore Open on the weekend and said his first taste of success has him ready to emulate one of his idols growing up.
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"I want to be remembered just like he was - that I give my all whenever I step out onto the court," Popyrin said after the victory.
Popyrin defeated Kazakh Alexander Bublik 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 in the final.
Popyrin's latest breakthrough, which has propelled him to a new career-high of World No.82, follows his remarkable win at the Australian Open over David Goffin.
In Melbourne, Popyrin saved five-match points before overcoming Goffin in a thriller and it gave him belief to mix it with the best.
"I mean I don't think our game necessarily is the same but I think Lleyton was such a fighter, such a grinder, he gave his all out there - and now that's what I want to be remembered like," Popyrin added.
Popyrin's admiration for icon Hewitt
He's always been a big admirer, ever since that day in 2008 as a sleepy eight-year-old in the Rod Laver Arena, he tried to keep awake alongside mum and dad as Hewitt beat Marcos Baghdatis in the famous marathon that ended at 4:33AM.
Last week, Hewitt was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Popyrin, a product of the academy of Serena Williams' mentor Patrick Mouratoglou, had admitted there is a lot of work to do to reach the heights for the battling Aussie legend.
"There's still a lot of hard work to be done, I know that," said Popyrin.
"My team knows we are gonna do that hard work but it's definitely a good start for me and hopefully I can build on this result and have a good year."
Popyrin admitted he has sacrificed a lot to reach his maiden title.
But the young Aussie has said there has been some mishaps along the way, which included some struggles during shut down in Australia.
This time last year, he admitted, he did slip, beginning a three-month lockdown when he ended up "putting on a few kilos and really not being fit as I could be".
But after getting back into top shape, Popyrin is hoping the "unbelievable feeling" of his maiden title can translate into a Grand Slam.
"Maybe I'll get the (same) feeling if I win my first grand slam - but hopefully that will happen!" he said.
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