Pop goes the Rublev, as defending champ ousted by Aussie

AUSSIE Alexei Popyrin caused a massive boilover at the Monte Carlo Masters overnight, defeating top 10 star and defending champion Andrey Rublev to set up an all-Aussie third round match with Alex de Minaur. Popyrin has always shown the potential to be a top-line player, and he put it all together against the sixth seed, winning 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 40 minutes.

Popyrin broke the status quo on the day, with all the other eight seeds winning, and a further two a set up before being suspended. The Australian, who lost to Rublev in a tight clash at Vienna on indoor hard court last year, got the better of the 2023 Monte Carlo Masters title winner on the clay overnight, gaining three breaks to one in the match to secure the 6-4 6-4 win.

“I enjoyed coming out on centre court for the first time. First tournament on clay of the year and I have good memories from clay last year,” Popyrin said post-match. “I am feeling really comfortable on it and happy to beat a guy who was in form, confident and the defending champ. It was an awesome match.”

The victory was the sixth Top 10 win of Popyrin’s career, hitting 25 winners against one of the most power-generating players on Tour. In his fourth Monte Carlo appearance, the Australian was able to break his drought of going beyond the Round of 32, having also defeated Frenchman Corentin Moutet in the opening round.

Popyrin only served one less ace (4-5), but won more first serve points (76 to 64 per cent) as he would control the court through his service games to win 65 per cent of his points and save five of six break points in the process. On the other side of the next, he converted three of eight off Rublev’s serve, winning 53 per cent of his second serve return points.

“The idea was not to give him the same ball,” Popyrin said. “He is probably the best player from the baseline when you give him rhythm, so I tried to change the pace, height and spin and I think it worked really well for me today.”

Popyrin’s upset win means an all-Australian third round against de Minaur, after the 11th seed came from a shock first set loss to put away the tricky Tallon Griekspoor – whom he had an 0-2 head-to-head record against – 2-6 6-2 6-3.

Elsewhere there were some dominant wins, with second seed Jannik Sinner wiping Sebastian Korda off the court 6-1 6-2, while Stefanos Tsitsipas showed even less mercy for Argentinian Tomas Etcheverry, only dropping one game en route to the third round. Fellow top 10 seeds Daniil Medvedev, Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz also win in straight sets, as did Frenchman Ugo Humbert.

Aside from de Minaur, Russian Karen Khachanov was the other seed to be pushed to three sets, winning against Francisco Cerundolo in a come-from-behind win 4-6 6-4 6-3, while in the other match, Italian lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego kept his second chance going with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.


[2] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-1 6-2
[4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [WC] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-2 6-4
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-4 6-4
[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) 6-2 6-4
[10] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [Q] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 7-5 7-6
[11] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 2-6 6-2 6-3
[12] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Tomas Etcheverry (ARG) 6-1 6-0
[14] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Zhizhen Zhang (CHN) 6-1 6-4
[15] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 4-6 6-4 6-3
[LL] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-4 7-5


[7] Holger Rune (DEN) leads [Q] Sumit Nagal (IND) 6-3 2-1
[9] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) leads Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 2-1

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments