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Zverev vs Popyrin tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Zverev back in action against qualifier in Acapulco

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 26 Feb 2019
  • Alexander Zverev faces qualifier Alexei Popyrin at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel on Tuesday
  • Zverev vs Popyrin is live from Acapulco at 6pm local/12am GMT
Alexander Zverev (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images )

Could lack of match practice hamper Alexander Zverev as the second seed begins his Abierto Mexicano Telcel campaign against Alexei Popyrin?

World no. 3 Alexander Zverev faces qualifier Alexei Popyrin, who made quite an impression at the Australian Open, in the first round of the 500-level ATP Acapulco tournament on Tuesday.

Zverev made his debut at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel, which is an increasingly popular destination for top players to warm up for Indian Wells and Miami since it switched from clay to hard courts in 2014, in 2018 and reached the semifinals without dropping a set before losing to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro. 

Zverev lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Returning in 2019 as the world no. 3 and second seed, Zverev will hope to do at least as well as he did 12 months ago as he looks for his first strong ATP-level result of the year. The German brought a successful 2018 season, which among other achievements included a third Masters 1000 Series title in Madrid and a first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the French Open, to a resounding close when he captured the title at the Nitto ATP Finals, proving with back-to-back victories over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer that, at best-of-three events at least, he’s right up there as a contender for the biggest titles.

But 2019 hasn’t started on a note of unalloyed success: Zverev teamed up with Angelique Kerber (who was once again the much more reliable and effective half of the pairing) to represent Germany at the Hopman Cup exhibition and the two repeated both their run to the final, and their 2018 defeat to Federer and Belinda Bencic. He didn’t play an ATP Tour event in the run-up to the Australian Open, two days before which he injured his ankle in practice; in Melbourne, he made it to the fourth round, battling past Jeremy Chardy in five sets in the second, only to fall in meek straight sets to Milos Raonic.

How much the ankle problem contributed to that defeat we will never know. Zverev played Davis Cup the week after the Australian Open finished, defeating two very modestly-ranked Hungarian opponents. But clearly it was an issue, because Zverev pulled out of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament due to the injury. 

‘I had to take Rotterdam off, unfortunately, and I was with a doctor that I’ve seen for a long time already,’ Zverev said in Acapulco. ‘I hope it’s going to get better, and I hope I’ll be pain-free very shortly.’

Few men have played as little as Zverev coming into Acapulco – on the other hand, it’s a schedule that looks a bit more like that of a top-five player, although the pressure then increases on Zverev’s ability to peak (or not) for the biggest events.

The pressure is on, therefore. But in a draw packed full of dangerous players, Zverev can’t complain too much about the first-round opponent he faces as the German tries to play himself back into form.

Alexei Popyrin (BRENTON EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Alexei Popyrin booked his place in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel draw by coming through qualifying, but his route was a little fortuitous, to say the least: His opening opponent, Roberto Ortega-Olmedo, retired trailing 2-6, and then Bernard Tomic gave him a walkover, so Popyrin only actually had to play one set to make it into the main draw of a 500-level ATP event for the second time (he also qualified for the Swiss Indoors Basel last year, making the second round before losing to none other than Zverev).

That doesn’t mean that Popyrin should be underestimated. The 19-year-old Australian started 2018 outside the world’s top 600 and ended it as the world no. 147, a tremendous jump up the rankings which saw him compile a 46-26 win-loss record, win the Jinan Challenger and successfully qualify for ATP Tour events in Sydney, Stockholm and Basel. Granted wildcards into three of the biggest events of the Australian summer this January in recognition, Popyrin repaid the favour: He lost to compatriot Alex de Minaur in Brisbane and Martin Klizan in Sydney, but at the Australian Open, he scored a straight-sets victory over Mischa Zverev before progressing past seventh seed Dominic Thiem in the second round when the Austrian retired trailing 5-7, 4-6, 0-2. 
Popyrin’s Australian Open ended in the third round, but not before he had made quite an impression by coming back from two sets down against Lucas Pouille to push the French player to five. His reward was a new career-high ranking of world no. 124, as well as the less tangible reward of having made himself memorable.

Popyrin is still having to play qualifying at the moment, which he did successfully at the New York Open before losing in the first round, and unsuccessfully in Delray Beach last week. But he’s on his way towards the top 100, and at the age of 19, that’s not at all bad.

Being the world no. 3 at the age of 21 is better, of course, and Zverev took care of Popyrin in straight sets in their only ATP Tour meeting so far, which came in Basel last October. It will be interesting to see whether Popyrin, with the confidence he will have gained from his successful Australian Open and Zverev at a disadvantage after playing so little tennis recently, can make things much closer; but this is the kind of match Zverev wins, and that’s what he should do on Tuesday.

Zverev vs Popyrin Abierto Mexicano Telcel tennis is live from Acapulco from 6pm local/12am GMT

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Zverev vs Popyrin tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Zverev back in action against qualifier in Acapulco

Alexander Zverev vs Alexei Popyrin live streaming, preview and predictions for the Abierto Mexicano Telcel first-round match on Tuesday 26 February: Popyrin impressed at the Australian Open and Zverev is short on match practice – could the world no. 3 be pushed in Acapulco?

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