Popyrin Beats Lopez On Miami Debut

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Alexei Popyrin got off to a winning start at the Miami Open presented by Itau on Wednesday after knocking out the oldest player in the draw, Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, 6-4, 7-6(4) in 82 minutes.

“It was a very difficult match,” Popyrin told ATPTour.com. “Feli is a very tough player. He has an unbelievable serve, so when I had my chances to break I was putting all of my focus on the break points. There was no rhythm in the match, so not many rallies, but I am happy with the way I was mentally. There were a couple of shaky moments here and there, but I hung in to win.”

The 21-year-old Australian, who captured his first ATP Tour title last month at the Singapore Tennis Open (d. Bublik), will next play No. 30 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States in the second round.

“This title was a good start to the year, but it means nothing if the rest of the year is bad,” added Popyrin. “The work and the focus continue. I just hope I can continue the form I am in now through to the end of the year.”

Popyrin won 12 of the first 16 points before Lopez recovered to 4-4 in the first set. But 39-year-old Lopez paid for a lack of first serves at 4-5, which ended with a double fault at 0/40.

Lopez regrouped and broke at 5-5 in the second set off a deep return, but Popyrin bounced back in the next game with a low crosscourt forehand to seal a tie-break finish. From 0/1 in the tie-break, Popyrin won five straight points and completed his 10th victory of the season after Lopez hit another double fault.

Elsewhere, Cameron Norrie will play ninth-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the second round after the Briton recovered from 1-5 down in the deciding set to defeat Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 in two hours and 15 minutes.

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France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert dominated on serve to beat Pedro Sousa of Portugal 6-1, 6-3 in 65 minutes. Herbert recently finished runner-up at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille (l. to Medvedev), having beaten World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals. He now faces Canadian No. 11 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

#NextGenATP Frenchman Hugo Gaston charged past Acapulco semi-finalist Dominik Koepfer 6-1, 6-4 to earn his maiden ATP Masters 1000 victory. The 20-year-old wild card converted both his break points to book an all-#NextGenATP encounter against Jannik Sinner.

Yannick Hanfmann won 62 per cent of his second-serve return points (16/26) to beat Steve Johnson 7-5, 6-2. The German will face Karen Khachanov in the second round. Yen-Hsun Lu also overcame American opposition on Wednesday when he defeated Sam Querrey 6-3, 6-4. Lu, who is making his 10th appearance at the Masters 1000, saved both break points he faced to confirm a second-round clash with top seed Daniil Medvedev.

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