Rising Aussie stars gives glimpses of exciting future
Opportunity knocks for Alexei Popyrin after the Australian young gun surged into the second round of the US Open for the first time.
Popyrin, who only turned 20 this month, downed the vastly more experienced Federico Delbonis 6-1 7-5 7-6 (7-5) to notch yet another milestone in a breakout season for the former French Open junior champion.
After cracking the world's top 100 for the first time, then earning direct entry into a major for the first time, Popyrin has now reached at least the second round at all four grand slams in 2019.
He didn't have it easy, though, against Delbonis.
After breezing through the opening set in 23 minutes, Popyrin had to battle back from service breaks down in the second and third to keep the Argentine at bay.
Sporting matching T-shirts displaying "Pop on Top", Popyrin's parents rode every single point before their son indeed finished on top in a tick over two hours.
His reward is a meeting with Mikhail Kukushkin after the Kazakh removed 10th-seeded Wimbledon semi-finalist Roberto Bautista-Agut from Popyrin's passage to the last 32 in New York.
Should he cash in on his good fortune, Popyrin could face countryman Jordan Thompson for a spot in the second week.
In the form of his life, Thompson destroyed Joao Sousa 6-3 6-2 6-4 in a relentless display of power, precision and concentration from the 25-year-old.
"That's probably one of the best matches I've ever played - from the get-go," Thompson said.
"Served pretty well, made a lot of returns - (on) first and second serves - and executed the game plan, so really happy to get through that one."
In a mark of how far Thompson has come, the 25-year-old - who cracked the world's top 50 last month for the first time - needed five sets to see off the 44th-ranked Sousa last time they met.
The time before, Sousa crushed him in straight sets.
"It was the opposite today. Got through fairly comfortably and saved the legs a little bit," Thompson said after booking a date with 24th seed Matteo Berrettini.
"He's a big guy - big frame, good ball striker. Hits it big," Thompson said of the Italian.
"He's got a really good serve so he's probably going to throw everything at me. I've got to be prepared to make a lot of balls."
Meanwhile, Greek eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas ripped into match umpire Damien Dumusois and many of his colleagues after making a first-round exit, falling to Russia's Andrey Rublev.
Tsitsipas, an Australian Open semi-finalist who also crashed out in the first round at Wimbledon, cramped in losing 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (9/7) 7-5 after three hours and 54 minutes.
The 21-year-old Greek star, who reached a career-best fifth in the world rankings earlier this month, suffered his fourth consecutive loss this month and said after he felt wronged by the Frenchman officiating the match.
"This chair umpire, he has something against me. I don't know why," said Tsitsipas.
"I feel like some of them have preferences when they are on the court."
It wasn't clear exactly what Tsitsipas meant when he yelled at Dumusois, "you're all weirdos," but he clearly wasn't happy about the idea his vocal father might be coaching him from the stands rather than simply cheering him.
"The chair umpire was very incorrect in what he was telling me during the match," Tsitsipas said.
I don't know what this chair umpire has in specific against my team but he's been complaining and telling me that my team talks all of the time when I'm out on the court playing."