WATCH: Alexei Popyrin defeats Taylor Fritz in the 2023 Australian Open second round


In tennis, there are a few rare experiences that only certain Grand Slams can provide—the hush of anticipation that falls over Centre Court before the players walk out, the roaring Parisian crowd watching a French player battling on terre battue, the electric atmosphere of a US Open night match that has just gone past midnight.

And at the Australian Open, it’s the sheer joy and tears of a local wild card after he takes down a top seed with a rocking Aussie crowd chanting his name.

On Thursday, it was 23-year-old Alexei Popyrin who treated fans to these emotional scenes, as he produced one of the biggest upsets of the tournament against world No. 9 Taylor Fritz.

“This is a dream for me, and I don’t want to wake up at all,” he told Casey Dellacqua amid tears during the on-court interview.

Popyrin needed five sets and just over four hours to take down Fritz, sealing the victory 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-2 — the biggest win of his Grand Slam career.

Q. That was just incredible... Please tell us how much this means to you, particularly in front of this home crowd?

ALEXEI POPYRIN: You guys [the crowd] were just incredible, oh my god. Crazy, man. I really couldn’t have done it without you guys. (Crying)

This win means so much to me. I had the toughest year last year. I won as many matches this year as I did the whole of last year, and it’s only January…

This pre-season I put my head down. I worked as hard as I possibly could. I don’t want that feeling that I had last year ever again. I wrote [that] down to myself in my head: I’m going to keep working, I’m going to keep pushing, I’m going to try and keep going all the way, mate.

I love this feeling, and I want more of this feeling. I want you guys to have this feeling more. Man, I love you guys so much! Thank you. (Crying)


Ranked No. 59 in the world back in 2021, Popyrin has slowly started working his way back up the rankings after his loss of form and currently sits at world No. 113. The Aussie finished 5-17 in ATP-level matches last year—and he’s eager to leave those dismal results in the rearview mirror.

Popyrin has already turned heads in 2023 with a straight-sets win over world No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-4 7-6 (5), during Adelaide 1—his first ever victory against a Top 10 player in a completed match—going all the way to the quarterfinals from qualifying.

Up next will be another American opponent in 20-year-old Ben Shelton, who made a successful Australian Open main draw debut and recorded his career first Grand Slam wins on his way to the third round.