Australia’s Alexei Popyrin, who will face defending French Open champion Rafael Nadal in the first round, believes he has a only 0.1% chance of winning his match. However, he possesses the belief that he can beat the 13-time time Roland Garros tennis champion. The 21-year-old Popyrin won the juniors tournament at Paris two days before Nadal completed ‘La Decima’ i.e. 10 titles. And he believes his power game could cause Nadal – whose own power game in his heyday was legendary – some issues.
“There’s nothing to lose for me,” the confident 21-year-old Sydneysider told AAP on Friday.
“I think he’s got all the pressure on him and, basically, probably a 99.9% chance to win that match considering his record here – but I’ll take that 0.1%!” he added.
“But I’m really looking forward to it. It’s the hardest draw you could get, in the first round especially – but I’m up for the challenge.”
Should Popyrin actually win, he will be only the third player in history to beat Nadal on the clay court Grand Slam. But for the youngster, belief is part of the game.
“I definitely do, I don’t go into any match thinking that I couldn’t win,” said Popyrin.
“I definitely do think I have the game to beat him. My game’s very dangerous for any player – I just need to find the consistency.”
“If I bring my A game, who knows what can happen this time?”
Popyrin also adds that winning the juniors title gives him the confidence to beat anyone. But he also knows that the step up is a considerable one.
“I think it always will be. Winning the juniors there has given me confidence here ever since It was only the juniors, though. Doesn’t really stand up against Rafa and 13 titles!
“Tell Rafa that I’ve won the French juniors and he’d be, like, ‘oh, yeah?’ He’d swat that like a fly!”
Nadal, for his part, talked up the young prospect at his pre-tournament press conference on Friday.
“He’s young, he has the power. He has big shots. As always, I need to be ready for it. I know every round is tough, I respect every opponent always. And Popyrin is a dangerous one no,” he said.