Australia’s Alexei Popyrin was down two sets against France’s Lucas Pouille before fighting off a match point and then getting back on level terms at 2-2 before fading slightly in the deciding fifth set to see Pouille take the match 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-7(10), 4-6, 6-3.
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Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 19: Lucas Pouille of France embraces Alexei Popyrin of Australia after winning their third round match during day six of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Both players came into the 2019 Australian Open without a win at this tournament and found themselves fighting for a fourth-round spot.
The first set was won by Pouille the 28th seed in a tie-breaker after both players held serve all the way through the set. In the second set Pouille got a break in the sixth game and then held serve to have a huge advantage at two sets to nil.
With Popyrin looking at a straight sets defeat he dug deep in the third set tiebreaker as Pouille held a match point at 8-7. Popyrin saved that point and then took the breaker 12-10 as he hit a winner.
Popyrin broke in the fourth set in the first game only to see that advantage slip when he was broken in the fourth game after he served two double-faults and he lost a point with a backhand error. Popyrin hit back with a break in the seventh game before holding until he served out the set to win 6-4.
In the fifth set, it was Pouille serving first, that gave him the edge and he was able to break his opponent in the sixth game. Popyrin had a chance to get back on serve in the ninth game when Pouille had served a double-fault for 30-40 but a forced forehand error from Popyrin got Pouille to deuce. The Frenchman then moved into the fourth round as he took the set 6-3.
The winners count was very tight with Pouille hitting 64 to 63 from Popyrin, unforced errors were 48 to 56 for Pouille to hold a slight advantage.
19-year-old Alexei Popyrin has announced himself as a player to watch after a strong performance in the 2019 Australian Open. He moves well for a big man, has good touch at the net, he has a booming serve and possesses a powerful forehand.
Pouille moves on to face Borna Coric.
Alex Bolt, Australia’s other male player that was in action on day 6 lost in straight sets to Alexander Zverev on Rod Laver Arena.