Alexei Popyrin returns a shot against Mikhail Kukushkin. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Alexei Popyrin returns a shot against Mikhail Kukushkin. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Aussie giant charging at US Open

Rising Aussie tennis star Alexei Popyrin continued his remarkable year at grand slam level by charging into the third round of the US Open.

The 20-year-old has been a breakout star in 2019, winning at least one match at every major despite still being ranked outside the top 100.

He matched his third round appearance at the Australian Open in January by defeating Kazakhstan's world No. 47 Mikhail Kukushkin on Friday morning (AEST) 2-6 7-5 6-3 6-2. Kukushkin had upset 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the opening round.

Popyrin will meet Italian 24th seed Mattteo Berrettini in a winnable third round encounter before potentially meeting Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round.

Berrettini defeated Jordan Thompson 7-5 7-6 4-6 6-1 to ruin the possibility of Australia sending four players through to the final 32 in the men's singles.

Alex de Minaur progressed to a third round clash against Kei Nishikori after a 6-3 7-5 6-3 win against 31st seed Cristian Garin while Kyrgios has the opportunity to join him when he meets Antoine Hoang later on Friday morning.

Alexei Popyrin. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Alexei Popyrin. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Popyrin showed his incredible power by smashing 44 winners - including a 15-3 advantage in the ace count. He also showed incredible poise to win seven of nine break point opportunities.

The 196cm giant has already been given the tick of approval by Aussie tennis legend Pat Cash, who told the ATP website he was predicting big things for the Sydneysider.

"He's an exceptional athlete, there's no doubt about that. And he's very good under pressure. Those are two very important things that were highlighted to me," Cash said.

"The rest of the technical stuff you can work on and improve that. When you're playing under pressure and moving, that's sort of stuff you're born with to a certain extent. You can always improve these things. Players get better, players become better athletes.

"But if you've got that naturally, and you like to compete and you can play well under pressure, then that's a huge bonus … so that for me gave me the indication that he's got a chance to make it a long way in the game."

POPYRIN'S 2019 GRAND SLAM SCALPS

Australian Open - Mischa Zverev (ranking at the time: 68), Dominic Thiem (7)

French Open - Ugo Humbert (61)

Wimbledon - Pablo Carreno Busta (50)

US Open - Federico Delbonis (67), Mikhail Kukushkin (47)