Australians Alex Bolt and Alexei Popyrin are both into the third round. The way they got there was drastically different.
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Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 17: Alex Bolt of Australia celebrates winning match point in his second round match against Gilles Simon of France during day four of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
Popyrin played a solid match highlighted by big forehands before his opponent called it quits early in the third set.
Bolt had to go the distance, saving four match points in a fourth set tiebreaker before closing out the match in five sets.
“It’s unbelievable. My parents have come over from Murray Bridge, and to be able to do it in front of them is special,” said Bolt post-match, his first victory against any player inside the top 70.
“Gilles is a quality player and I got him in five [sets], that gives me the belief that I can do it against these top guys.”
Both players received wildcards to take their place in the main draw and the decisions have paid off for Australian tennis.
19-year-old Popyrin, a junior French Open champion took his match 7-5, 6-4, 2-0 as the 2018 French Open runner-up Dominic Thiem retired from the match.
“It’s never easy winning like this – Domi played a tough first round,” Popyrin told the crowd at Melbourne Arena.
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Photo: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 17: Alexei Popyrin of Australia is interviewed after winning his second round match against Dominic Thiem of Austria who retired injured during day four of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
“I just want to thank everyone who came out and supported me today – it’s an unbelievable thing.
“I always thought I was in the match, to be honest, but when I won the second set is when that thought really kicked in and that I could actually win the match.”
“I felt very bad during the game, obviously,” Thiem said.
“Yesterday after the long match I felt really fine, actually and today I started to feel like whole body hurt and also [in] general not feeling well at all, and in the match it got worse. Whole body was hurting, I was feeling weak, and there was no sense to continue.”
The fun continues for the Aussies in round three with Bolt facing either Alexander Zverev or Jerome Chardy. Popyrin will play world no. 30 Lucas Pouille.