“Can Get Some Tips”: Alexei Popyrin Seeks to Do a Robin Soderling Against Rafael Nadal

Published 05/06/2021, 3:54 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP 500 – Barcelona Open – Real Club de Tennis Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain – April 23, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie REUTERS/Albert Gea


Australian tennis star Alexei Popyrin has a mountain to climb if he has to seal his passage to the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open. The current World No. 76 will play top-seed and five-time champion, Rafael Nadal, later on Thursday for a place in the last-eight.

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Speaking to reporters before going into the biggest match of his career, the 21-year-old Popyrin said that he won’t be overawed by his opponent and will give it his all in the hope of turning the odds in his favor.

The Aussie has had a strong run in the tournament so far, beating the likes of German Jan-Lennard Struff and Miami Open runners-up Jannik Sinner on his way to reaching the last-16.

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Alexei Popyrin says he would’ve preferred to play Rafael Nadal on grass or hard court

Popyrin said that he is seeking inspiration from Nadal’s shock 2009 French Open defeat to Swede Robin Soderling, and will catch the match trying to pick up some tricks of beating the champion on clay.

Tennis – ATP 500 – Barcelona Open – Real Club de Tennis Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain – April 23, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie REUTERS/Albert Gea

“I’m just going to go out there, have fun, going to (use) a little bit of tactics, maybe watch a little bit of his 2009 loss against Soderling. Maybe I can get some tips from there,” Popyrin said.

For someone who will face Nadal for the first time across a tennis court, what makes Popyrin’s job doubly difficult is that he will be playing the ‘King of Clay’ on his favorite surface.

Conceding that he would have preferred playing the Spaniard on a hard court or on grass, the Aussie added, “I’ve got to play him on his favorite surface and he’s the greatest of all time on this surface”.

Alexei Popyrin says he doesn’t mind being an underdog against Nadal

Popyrin isn’t losing heart and wants to go down with a fight. “I am not to go out there thinking I am going to lose one and one. I’m going to give it my all, put in a fight,” he said.

He added that he would go into the clash, believing that he could beat the 13-time French Open champion on his home turf.

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“I’m going to go out there believing that I can actually play because I believe that I do have the level to play with him, even if it is his favorite surface, (even) if he is playing at home,” the young Australian said.

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He said that while the odds heavily favor Nadal, he doesn’t mind carrying the tag of an “underdog” into the pre-quarters clash.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

995 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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