Australia’s Alexei Popyrin has claimed his first win on debut at the Miami Masters.
It is just his third Masters level tournament overall after losing in the first round at the Monte Carlo Masters in 2019 and the second round at the Indian Wells Masters, also in 2019.
A recent maiden title winner at the Singapore ATP 250, the 21-year-old eliminated the oldest player in the draw, Spain’s Feliciano Lopez is 39-years-old.
“It was a very difficult match,” Popyrin told ATPTour.com. “Feli is a very tough player. He has an unbelievable serve, so when I had my chances to break I was putting all of my focus on the break points. There was no rhythm in the match, so not many rallies, but I am happy with the way I was mentally. There were a couple of shaky moments here and there, but I hung in to win.”
Popyrin made the most of a poor service game from his opponent at 4-5 with the Spaniard handing the set to his opponent with a double fault at 0/40.
Lopez looked to be on his way to levelling the match at a set a piece after breaking for a 6-5 lead in the second set.
After losing the first point of the breaker, Popyrin won five straight points to take control of the situation. He would seal the 6-4, 7-6(4) in 82 minutes.
Next up is the 30th seed from the USA, Reilly Opelka.
The powerful American is 2-5 in 2021 with a first round win over Sergiy Stakhovsky in the Melbourne tournament before the Australian Open.
Opelka defeated world no. 1009 in the opening round at the Australian Open before losing an epic five set battle against fellow American Taylor Fritz.
This will be the first meeting between Popyrin and Opelka. The American is into the second round off of a bye.
Australia’s other participant on day one of men’s action was James Duckworth, the world no. 104.
Duckworth made the 2015 Indian Wells and Miami Masters from qualifying and won his first round matches. They are his only Masters level tournaments throughout his career.
This time the 29-year-old Australian faced Germany’s Mischa Zverev, a qualifier in 2021.
At 33, the former world no. 25, Zverev has seen his ranking slip to no. 280. He is now more often a hitting partner to his younger brother Alexander the no 3 seed in Miami.
Zverev was 1-5 in Miami with his only win coming in 2019 when Nicola Kuhn, the then world no. 255 retired at 2-2 in the third set.
Duckworth took the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory to set up a second-round showdown with No.8 seed David Goffin.
The Australian let a few match points slip before finally seeing a wide shot that Zverev decided not to volley land on the line. It was a bad decision by the German.
The match between Goffin and Duckworth is their first meeting.
World no. 13 Goffin is 9-6 in 2021 and won the ATP 250 title in Montpellier at the end of February.
To complete the men’s opening round we see three Australians in action.
Chris O’Connell (AUS) v Joao Sousa (POR)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Federico Delbonis (ARG)
[Q] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v [Q] Shintaro Mochizuki (JPN)