London: Dubai teen Alexei Popyrin has promised his third visit at the annual Dubai Tennis Championships in 2019 should be a memorable one after coming through the ATP University at The O2 Arena this year.
Popyrin, a former Dubai resident and ball boy at the Dubai Tennis Championships, has already played on two occasions in the qualifiers at the Duty Free-owned and sponsored tennis event. And even though he has failed to make it through to the main draw in two attempts, Popyrin has proved the depth of his talent after becoming the first Australian in 49 years to be crowned champion at the French Open Junior Boys last year.
The 19-year-old, who once used to train as a junior under Jean Francois Danican at Al Wasl Club’s tennis facility before shifting residence between Spain and Australia, was among the 27 ATP World Tour players at this year’s ATP University held alongside the Nitto ATP Tour Finals.
The ATP University is an opportunity for players to learn about important topics facing their careers with the ATP World Tour hosting the three-day educational session twice a year to inform the players about ATP World Tour operations and equip them with knowledge they will need for a productive life on tour. Players learn about specific on-tour topics including anti-corruption, anti-doping, giving back and an introduction to saving and investing as sportsmen.
“My aim for Dubai is to advance into the main round. That would be the goal this year,” Popyrin told Gulf News.
“This ATP University was an eye-opener to me. I think I am much better informed now than before. I think this is a good initiative from the ATP Tour where players from across the world meet twice a year and also get a chance to know how to take their game to the next level. I am sure this experience will help me become a better player,” the 19-year-old added.
During the course of the ATP University, the players were lectured by legends of the sport including eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl, now coach to eventual Nitto ATP Tour Finals champion, Alexander Zverev. The juniors also toured London and some of them even went on top of The O2 Arena.
“This has been a wonderful experience for me and I am better educated about tennis and how it is run. I think I will be more comfortable on the ATP Tour now than before,” Popyrin related.
“This is a great experience and an even greater learning curve for me,” he added.
Born in Sydney, Australia, Popyrin spent a couple of years in the UAE and turned professional in 2017. He is currently ranked No. 149 on the ATP Tour after achieving a career-high No. 148 earlier this month.
Ironically, his most recent result was a 4-6, 4-6 loss to Zverev in Round 16 at the Basel Open in the second half of October.