Aussie young gun stuns tennis world in epic US Open boilover

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·Sports Editor
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Alexei Popyrin, pictured here after adding Grigor Dimitrov to his growing list of high-profile scalps.
Alexei Popyrin added Grigor Dimitrov to his growing list of high-profile scalps. Image: Getty/ESPN

Alexei Popyrin has stunned the tennis world at the US Open, marching into the third round after beating an injured Grigor Dimitrov.

The Aussie young gun added Dimitrov to his growing list of prized grand slam scalps to sweep into the third round at Flushing Meadows for the second-straight time.

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Popyrin had to overcome two rain delays, hunger pains and rallied from a service break down in the opening set to advance after Dimitrov quit with a foot injury while trailing 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7- 4) 4-0.

The victory set up a date on Saturday with British 24th seed Dan Evans as Popyrin bids for a place in the second week of a major for the first time.

According to Australian Davis Cup captain and former US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt, who pre-tournament backed Popyrin for a deep run in New York, it's where he belongs.

Popyrin made the fourth round at the US Open in 2019 before opting not to travel to the States last year during the height of the global pandemic.

But he's quickly making up for lost time.

The youngster thrives in best-of-five-set tennis and on the sport's biggest stages, with grand slam triumphs over 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem, two-time Flushing Meadows semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta and former Australian Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on his resume.

He also saved match points before taking down David Goffin, the 2017 season-ending championship runner-up to Dimitrov, at this year's Australian Open.

Grigor Dimitrov, pictured here during his loss to Alexei Popyrin at the US Open.
Grigor Dimitrov looks on during his loss to Alexei Popyrin at the US Open. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Tennis world stunned by Alexei Popyrin boilover

A semi-finalist two years ago in New York, Dimitrov established an early 4-1 lead on Thursday but Popyrin broke back then snatched the first set in a tie-breaker.

After taking the second in similar fashion, Popyrin raced through the first games of the third set in the blink of an eye before Dimitrov packed it in.

The former World No.3 had earlier sought treatment for the injury after the first set, but Popyrin felt he had Dimitrov's measure regardless.

"It was a high-level match. He's a really tough opponent to play but we came out with the right tactics and implemented them really well," he said.

"He countered them quite well as well so I had to figure out a way in the first set how to get back from a break down and I'm just happy I was able to maintain that level over the course of the first two sets and then unfortunately he had to retire."

The match was supposed to start mid-morning and the first weather delay threw Popyrin out of routine.

"I didn't feel the best," he said.

"At the time I came out there, it's usually my lunchtime and I had a really early breakfast so I didn't feel full of energy when I came out on court."

But the second stoppage, after he'd claimed the first set, proved a godsend.

"If we had have continued I would have played on adrenaline and forgotten about the hunger but when I went out on court, I remembered the hunger so when I came back in I had a few bananas and a few bars," Popyrin said.

"I didn't feel that good on the court but I tried to stay focused on my serve and that was good.

"I'm just happy to be in the third round again."

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with AAP

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