Australia’s Alexei Popyrin has lost in the opening round of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 event, losing 7-5, 6-1 to Gilles Simon the world no. 26.
Popyrin, the world no. 120 had battled his way through qualifying to earn a main draw spot. That effort saw him go into this match with confidence.
The young Australian broke his opponent early and several times was up a break in the first set, but when it mattered Simon was able to win the big points.
It was the Australian that opened the serving and he held. He straight away had Simon under pressure jumping out to 0-30. A big forehand winner gave the Australian three break points.
Simon saved the first break point after a shot from Popyrin sat up after clipping the net and Simon hit a winner. The next point saw Popyrin hit just long to see the score at 30-40. Another error from the Australian got the score to deuce. Popyrin then tried to force a shot and again hit into the net.
Simon decided to attack and come forward, hitting to the Popyrin’s backhand. With the ball hit straight to him the Australian lined up a passing shot and hit a winner.
After several points Popyrin setup another winner when a big forehand pushed Simon deep, the Australian moved to the net to hit a winner and earn another break point. This time Simon hit wide and conceded the game.
Simon had a break back point in the next game after Popyrin hit a forehand well over the baseline. He would concede the game with a double fault.
The Frenchman then held to get the score to 2-2. Popyrin was unlucky to not have a break point after he missed a shot down the line by centimetres, it would have been a winner if it tagged the line.
Popyrin held for a 3-2 lead then he again had Simon at 0-30. A Popyrin error makes it 15-30 before a double fault gave Popyrin two break points. The game was conceded after another double fault. Simon showed his displeasure by sending a ball into the grandstand, he was given a warning.
Serving at 4-2, Popyrin was soon facing three break points. At 0-30 his shot just missed the baseline. A big forehand saved one break point, but on the next point he served a double fault to again concede his break advantage.
Simon held serve to level the scores at 4-4.
Popyrin was two points from the first set when he jumped out to 0-30 in the 10th game, thanks to a double fault from Simon. The Australian wasted his opportunity, hitting long for 15-30 and then into the net for 30-30. Simon closed out the game to level at 5-5.
A big first serve from the Australian got him off to a good start in the 11th game. On the next point Popyrin fault to put away a volley, on the next volley he dumped it into the net. Another error and Simon was up 30-15. Simon just missed the sideline for 30-30.
Popyrin sent a shot wide from a forehand to face a break point. He saved that with a first serve that Simon hit wide of the mark for deuce. A serve and volley got Popyrin to Ad as he hit a volley winner. A loose forehand took the score back to deuce.
Simon hit his return right on the baseline and as Popyrin hopped back to hit a forehand he was late on the ball and pulled it wide to give the Frenchman a break point.
After a long rally, it was Popyrin that folded first hitting a shot into the net to concede a crucial break and allow Simon to step up to serve for the opening set.
Simon took the first set after a half-hearted attempt at a drop shot from Popyrin drifted wide.
It was a set that could have been won by Popyrin, but errors at crucial times cost him the set.
The first game of the second set saw Simon break Popyrin, he then held for 2-0.
The Australian soon found himself facing three breaks points to go down a double break. When Simon made his way to the net and put away an easy volley he was up 3-0.
Another service hold for Simon and he was in total control.
Popyrin would hold serve for 4-1. He then called for the physio as he was feeling neck pain.
After the Australian received treatment, Simon stepped up to serve. He held for 5-1. Popyrin then was facing a match point after he hit long. A shot hit wide conceded the match.
With the points earned through qualifying and the 10 for a first round loss, Popyrin jumps to no. 114 on the live rankings.