Alexei Popyrin returns a shot during his second-round match against Spain's Jaume Munar. Picture: Michael Dodge/AAP
Alexei Popyrin returns a shot during his second-round match against Spain's Jaume Munar. Picture: Michael Dodge/AAP

Coach tips powerful Popyrin to send Medvedev on his way

ALEXEI Popyrin's new coaching recruit is convinced the 20-year-old has the firepower to turn the Australian Open draw on its head with the third-round removal of world No.4 Daniil Medvedev on Saturday night.

Having parted ways with Novak Djokovic after helping the super Serb to four grand slam crowns following his mystifying career slump, esteemed strategist Craig O'Shannessy is now preparing game plans for Team Popyrin.

And he believes the young gun has the weapons to seriously test Medvedev even more than in the Aussie's four-set loss to the Russian at Wimbledon last year.

"This match is much more on Alexei's racquet than Medvedev's because of his potent first-strike game style," O'Shannessy told AAP.

Along with renowned power servers John Isner, Milos Raonic and Stefanos Tsitsipas, Popyrin is one of only four players left in the draw yet to be broken this campaign.

"He's serving bombs and backing it up with aggressive court position," O'Shannessy said.

"Medvedev is going to have to deal with some serious firepower."

Relishing another crack at the red-hot Russian, Popyrin has pledged to get straight on to the front foot on Saturday.

Medvedev posted a tour-best 59 victories in 2019, including a golden streak on his favoured hardcourts late in the year when he won 21 of 22 matches, with his only loss coming to Rafael Nadal in five sets in the US Open final.

Acknowledging that trying to match the brick-wall baseliner from the back as a recipe for disaster, Popyrin will attack the net at every opportunity.

"We're both more comfortable on the baseline, but I'm looking to come in a lot, I'm looking to be aggressive," the world No.96 said.

"There are a lot of similarities with our game. We've both got big serves and we take advantage of that.

"But definitely (attacking the net), I think that's my only chance of winning.

"Not many people can rally with him on the baseline. He's probably the best of rallying on the baseline.

"My game is to come in. If I steer away from that, then I definitely won't win. I have to play my game against him."

Popyrin's popcorn match on Rod Laver Arena has relegated countryman Nick Kyrgios's own third-round stoush with a Russian to third-tier billing on Melbourne Arena.

Kyrgios is playing for a likely last-16 crack at world No.1 Rafael Nadal, who is up against fellow Spaniard Pablo Carrena Busta.

World No.1 Karolina Pliskova, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and fifth seed Elina Svitolina headline the women's action on day six.


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