The Best of the Day preview rips a forehand down the line with tennis tips for in-form Australian Alexei Popyrin’s Dubai Open clash with Karen Khachanov.
21:00 (AEDT) @ Aviation Club Tennis Centre, Dubai
History: First meeting
Final thoughts: The Best of the Day preview heads to Dubai as rising Aussie Alexei Popyrin attempts to continue his sizzling start to 2021 against big-serving Russian Karen Khachanov.
World No.86 Popyrin is coming off the first ATP title win of his career, taking out the Singapore Open two weeks ago.
— SEN 1116 (@1116sen) March 9, 2021
The 21-year-old’s run included a semi-final upset of third seed Marin Cilic and coming from a set down to beat Alexander Bublik in the final.
Popyrin also bundled David Goffin out in the first round of the Australian Open last month. He fell to Lloyd Harris in another five-setter in the second round.
He kicked off his Dubai Open campaign with a hard-fought 7-6 7-5 win over the experienced Dennis Novak. Popyrin blasted 10 aces past the Austrian.
Six wins and counting …
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) March 14, 2021
World No.22 Khachanov has also enjoyed a solid start to the season. He reached the semis of the Great Ocean Road Open, before enduring a third-round loss to top-10 star Matteo Berrettini at the Australian Open.
The 24-year-old beat Stan Wawrinka and Cameron Norrie on his way to the Rotterdam Open quarters earlier this month. He went down to Stefanos Tsitsipas after winning the first set.
San Petersburgo | Stan Wawrinka (🇨🇭) superó un duro escollo llamado Karen Khachanov (🇷🇺), el score final fue 7-6,7-6 para el helvético que cerró el juego con su brillante revés a una mano. pic.twitter.com/c0NHuvsmzn
— Drive Cruzado (@DriveCruzado) September 19, 2018
Khachanov was upset by Australia’s world No.287 Matthew Ebden in the Open 13 quarters on the weekend. Seeded eighth in Dubai, the Russian earned passage directly through to the second round.
Based permanently in Dubai, Khachanov will be at home in these conditions. But Popyrin’s recent form is hard to overlook and a Best of the Day upset – and Khachanov’s second defeat to an Aussie in the space of a few days – could be on the cards here.