Tennis-Djokovic 'just another player' for Popyrin ahead of Australian Open meeting

Credit: REUTERS/Mike Frey

MELBOURNE, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Few will fancy Alexei Popyrin's chances when he takes on 10-time champion Novak Djokovic in the second round of the Australian Open but the local hope said on Monday he would treat the world number one just like any other player.

Popyrin, who beat compatriot Marc Polmans 6-3 7-6(3) 6-2 in the first round, said he would push Djokovic's achievements out of his mind and go into Wednesday's confident that he can take down the 24-time Grand Slam champion.

"Going to play against Novak is nothing different than going to play against anybody else on tour," Popyrin told reporters.

"For me it's the same preparation. For me it's the same mentality. I'm going in there with full confidence.

"I don't want to go in there thinking, 'he's probably the greatest of all time'. I admire what he's done. He probably is the greatest of all time.

"But for me I need to have that confidence going in and the belief going in that I can win the match and that he is just the world number one, and he is just another player for me on the opposite side of the net."

Popyrin lost in straight sets in his only previous meeting with Djokovic at the Japan Open in 2019.

"I remember that I was physically just not up to par to him," 43rd-ranked Popyrin said.

"Now I'm 24, five years later, a bit more experienced, bit more mature. A bit physically stronger. I would say much more physically stronger."

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Nashik, India; Editing by Peter Rutherford )

((Aadi.Nair@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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