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Australia Cilic is Popyrin's biggest challenge yet

20:18  26 february  2021
20:18  26 february  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

Popyrin crushes Cilic's Singapore title hopes

  Popyrin crushes Cilic's Singapore title hopes Australia's Alexei Popyrin took out third seed Marin Cilic in an absorbing contest at the Singapore Tennis Open on Saturday, prevailing 7-6 (5),7-6 (2) over the Croat to make it to his first ATP Tour final. Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik sent Moldova's Radu Albot packing in the day's other semi-final match with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory to head into his fourth ATP final, where he will take on Popyrin. str/cla/axnPopyrin let out a huge roar after sealing his victory in front of 250 fans, who were allowed to attend the tournament after passing Covid-19 tests.

Alexei Popyrin said there was no doubt that his epic triumph over David Goffin at the Australian Open was the biggest of his career - but he may need to rethink if he beats Marin Cilic in the Singapore Tennis Open semi-final.

a man holding a racket: Alexei Popyrin faces the biggest test of his career in the Singapore Open semi against Marin Cilic. © AP PHOTO Alexei Popyrin faces the biggest test of his career in the Singapore Open semi against Marin Cilic.

The young Australian prospect Popyrin has made a spectacular start to 2021, with his five-set win over 13th seed Goffin in Melbourne, which he fashioned after saving four match points, being a hard act to follow.

But the 21-year-old from Sydney has now succeeded by reaching his first ATP Tour semi-final in Singapore - and if he can defeat former US Open champion Cilic in the last-four on Saturday, it will mark another huge breakthrough in his burgeoning career.

Australian Popyrin offers glimpse of potential with Singapore win

  Australian Popyrin offers glimpse of potential with Singapore win Australian Popyrin offers glimpse of potential with Singapore winHaving never before surmounted the quarter-finals of an ATP event, Popyrin overhauled Kazakh Alexander Bublik 4-6 6-0 6-2 in the Singapore Open decider to continue his eye-catching start to the season.

Popyrin, the world No.114 and ranked sixth in Australia, says he's taken a new mentality into his game this season, honing himself to a new level of fitness during lockdown and noting after his win over Goffin that "I'm just going to go out there, fight, and just give it my all."

He's taken that attitude into Singapore, the non-seed knocking out American Christopher Eubanks, Bulgarian Adrian Andreev and compatriot Matt Ebden en route to the semis.

If he can make the final, Popyrin will be back in the world top 100 next week and will be homing in on his career-high ranking of 87 which he reached during his 2019 campaign.

Yet No.3 seed Cilic, whose power game matches his own, represents a very different level of opponent and even if the 32-year-old Croat has had injury woes and  dropped to No.44 in the rankings, he's looked more like his old self in Singapore.

Popyrin fights back to win maiden ATP title in Singapore

  Popyrin fights back to win maiden ATP title in Singapore Popyrin fights back to win maiden ATP title in SingaporePopyrin fired 11 aces and broke serve five times to hand fourth seed Bublik -- who is still searching for his first title -- a fourth defeat in a final.

He's sent down 30 aces but Popyrin won't be intimidated in the big-hitting stakes, having pummelled 33 himself in his three matches, including 14 against Ebden.

Cilic hasn't won a title since winning at London's Queen's Club before Wimbledon in 2018 so will be keyed up for the contest after saving a match point in his quarter-final win over South Korean Soonwoo Kwon.

"Throughout the match I think I played great tennis, my level of play was really good," said Cilic after his two-hour 6-2 2-6 7-5 win.

The other semi-final will see Moldova's world No.76 Radu Albot face the unpredictable Kazakh, Alexander Bublik, who's 46th in the rankings.

Ebden may have been disappointed by his singles defeat but he's also made the semi-finals in the doubles event with fellow Aussie John-Patrick Smith, with the pair set to face Spain's David Vega Hernandez and Venezuela's Luis David Martinez on Saturday.

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