Anthony Popyrin, the brother of rising Australian player Alexei Popyrin, has urged the crowd at Melbourne Park to again get behind the young star as he takes on US player Ben Shelton in the third round of the Australian Open tonight.
Popyrin won scores of new fans with his upset win over No.8 seed Taylor Fritz last round and he will look to again draw in the energy of the John Cain Arena crowd at 7pm tonight against a “fiery” Shelton who has emerged from the college ranks in his home country.
“I think Alexei is a super clutch player, he has had that mentality since he was a kid,” Anthony told Weekend Today.
“He’s got Ben Shelton who is a fiery competitor. I played college tennis so I know how rowdy those players can get but I know with the support of the home fans, he will bring it all to the table and I can’t wait for him to get out there and do his thing.”
Anthony Popyrin spoke from Dubai this morning and said his family was beaming with pride about Alexei’s performances so far.
“I’m so incredibly proud of him,” Anthony said.
“To see him work so hard during the preseason and see that work pay off. It’s one of the best feelings you can have as a brother.
“He’s my best friend and such a great role model as an athlete and a person.
“I think I sent him like 30 messages after the match telling him how much I love him.
“[Our rivalry] was a bit sticky when we were younger but as we grew older, it became better as we matured a bit, now I’m his biggest supporter.”