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February 9, 2021

Alexei Popyrin

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

A. POPYRIN/D. Goffin

3-6, 6-4, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Just a fantastic performance; something like that must fill you with a lot of confidence.

ALEXEI POPYRIN: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, it definitely does. I think I was like -- I was near the brink of losing, so I think when coming back from match points, it really gives you confidence for the upcoming rounds, and also the way I played was really pleasing to me. All the preseason work that I did physically and on my game, you know, it all paid off today.

Q. Were you on the brink physically at times, as well? You looked absolutely exhausted at the end.

ALEXEI POPYRIN: Yeah, in the fourth set I kind of felt my legs a little bit. That's why I called the physio out. He rubbed me with some hot cream. Yeah, but I think also it was a little bit mental. You know, going down a break in that fourth set, I kind of like -- I didn't think it was over, but it kind of was like, oh, yeah. I was kind of like on the edge of it.

But I managed to stay in. I managed to dig deep, and yeah, came out on top.

Q. Where does that rank sort of in your career wins? Is that right at the top?

ALEXEI POPYRIN: Number one. That was number one by far. Yeah, especially against who I played, a top-20 player, top-10 player by level, and also to save match points against him and beat him in five sets when he's known as like probably one of the fittest guys on tour. To beat him in five sets was really pleasing.

Q. You take away the crowd from that match, how do you think the result might have panned out?

ALEXEI POPYRIN: The same (laughing). No, the crowd were unbelievable. They helped me. They helped me out so much, especially in that fourth set. I was near the end and kept hearing, Head up, Alexei, head up, Alexei, come on, Popy, you can do this. All of it kept me fighting, kept me in there, and I wouldn't have won without them there. They were incredible.

Q. You obviously enjoy playing at the Open. I think you've made the third round the last two years. Have you set yourself a little goal this year to eclipse that?

ALEXEI POPYRIN: I think I'm going to take it one match at a time as I always do. I wasn't really thinking anything past the first round, to have a player like David in the first round is not an easy job. But no, I'm just going to focus on my second round. Hopefully I can get past that, and hopefully it's going to be the same mentality there on out. That's the goal with my team. I think always doing one step better than I did last year would always be a plus for me. But like I said, I'm only going to take it one match at a time.

Q. Down two sets to one, down four match points, down a break in the fifth, it's pretty remarkable. At those various stages what were you saying to yourself to get out of those holes?

ALEXEI POPYRIN: I was telling myself, you know, just take it one point at a time. Last week in the lead-up tournament, I saved six match points in the first round and then saved some match points against Grigor in the second set in the third round and won that second set. I knew that I was able to do it, just to do it for three out of four matches to start the year is kind of stressing a little bit (laughing). Hopefully I can ease the matches up throughout the year. But no, I think it just shows that the work I did in preseason, the mentality that I've taken on this year is all paying off, and my game is improving, and I can feel that.

Q. You look pretty calm on the exterior. Are you churning inside? Or are you pretty calm?

ALEXEI POPYRIN: No, I was pretty calm. You know, after last year I kind of decided that's it, I'm going to change my mentality on court. I'm not going to bother about -- not worry about if I lose matches, if I win matches. I'm just going to go out there, fight, and just give it my all. A lot of it, especially last year towards the end of last year, I was kind of really nervous every time I got out on court, just really wanting to win to start something going, and this year in preseason I told myself, I told my team that look, I'm going to change my mentality here. I'm going to go out there, I'm going to keep calm no matter what happens. And yeah, I think it's really paying off.

Q. Bouncing back in two days' time, can you talk about the challenge that represents, and also your opponent Lloyd Harris?

ALEXEI POPYRIN: I have no clue. This is the first time I've actually won a five-set match, but I can tell you the last time I lost a five-set match in the third round, I couldn't walk for two days. Hopefully I'll be a bit better. Tomorrow I've got dubs tomorrow with Andrew, so I'm going to look forward to that, do everything I possibly can to recover my legs for tomorrow and for Thursday.

Q. Have you come across Lloyd Harris before?

ALEXEI POPYRIN: Yeah, I played him once in Miami quallies and once last year, French Open. He won both times, so I know it's going to be a very difficult match for me. But I'm a different player. I'm a different player. I'm different mentally. I'm different with my game. It's definitely going to be really, really tough. I'm not taking it easy one bit, so it's going to be a really tough match, and hopefully I can perform the way I did today with less match points.

Q. Just wondering, you've mentioned a couple of times about the work you've put it in the off-season. What parts of your game did you actually concentrate on in that time?

ALEXEI POPYRIN: A lot of it was very physical, a lot of cardio, a lot of strength. Mostly cardio.

You know, I kind of felt that last year I was not in the fittest place, especially after lockdown. I wasn't -- it was tough to really work out during lockdown, and I gained a few kilos. I kind of lost all my physicality that I had.

All the work that we had, especially the first four weeks of preseason, was to focus on my cardio and the way I feel on court in longer durations, and then of course there's the technical aspects that we worked a lot with with my coach, a lot of the running forehands, a lot of the backhands, a lot on the serve, and honestly, it's all paying off right now. I feel great.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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