Home » ‘Go all the way’: Verdict on ‘unbelievable’ Demon rise… and why he can silence Djoker

‘Go all the way’: Verdict on ‘unbelievable’ Demon rise… and why he can silence Djoker

‘Go all the way’: Verdict on ‘unbelievable’ Demon rise… and why he can silence Djoker

After falling short of toppling a giant at Wimbledon on Saturday, Alexei Popyrin has great faith that his long-time friend Alex de Minaur has the credentials to challenge for the All England Club title over the next week in London.

Popyrin pushed seven-time champion Novak Djokovic, who de Minaur would meet in a quarterfinal on Wednesday should both men succeed on Monday, and feels the Australian No. 1 has the talent to trouble the all-time grand slam record holder.

“I think he can cause damage, honestly. He is one of the most in form players in the world right now,” Popyrin said.

“And he can go out there and cause damage and he should believe that because, honestly. I’ve practised with him, I’ve played with him and he can go all the way. I feel like he’s got a really good chance.”

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Djokovic takes down Aussie Popyrin | 00:50

But first the world No. 9, who has broken new ground at Wimbledon this year, has to defeat precocious Frenchman Arthur Fils, who said the Australian’s speed of thought on the court was as swift as the fleetness of his footwork ahead of their clash on Monday.

“He’s one of the fastest guys I know. It’s like if I want to hit one winner, I will have to hit three winners against him (to win the point). So it’s going to be very interesting,” Fils said.

“Of course, everyone knows that he’s fast, but he is also super clever on the court. He’s doing unbelievably since the start of the year, so it’s not going to be easy.”

Nor does Fils, who is the second youngest French player to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon in the Open era, present as an easy passage for de Minaur.

The No. 9 seed became the first Australian man since Lleyton Hewitt to reach the 4th Rd and just the seventh in the Open era to reach the last 16 in four successive majors when progressing with a forfeit from Lucas Pouille on Saturday.

But he is understandably wary of the threat Fils poses to his hopes of reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon for the first time after a recent loss to him in Barcelona in May.

That followed de Minaur’s defeat of Spanish legend Rafael Nadal a round earlier and preceded the 25-year-old’s run to the last eight at the French Open, though Fils downplayed the significant of the victory when noting Monday’s challenge was completely different.

“We played on clay, so it’s completely different. Completely different,” Fils said.

“It’s going to be a good match I think. He’s one of the best on the surface for sure, so I’m going to try my best. Let’s see if I can win this one, but it’s not going to be easy at all.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Arthur Fils plays a forehand against Roman Safiullin.
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 06: Arthur Fils plays a forehand against Roman Safiullin.Source: Getty Images

The Australian and his French Open conqueror Alexander Zverev are the only men yet to drop a set at Wimbledon in 2024 but de Minaur is mindful of the test confronting him.

The strong-bodied Fils, 20, narrowly missed being seeded for Wimbledon and has won three of his eight matches in the infancy of his career against Top 10 ranked rivals.

This includes a triumph over No. 7 seed Hubert Hurkacz, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2021, last Thursday, with Fils then edging Roman Safiullin in five sets on Saturday.

“Fils, he’s coming with a lot of confidence. Obviously beating ‘Hubie’ is a very good win on this surface and he’s got a big game (with) big groundstrokes,” de Minaur said.

“In previous years, I probably wouldn’t have thought that he would have enjoyed the grass as much, but he’s obviously enjoying it quite well and feeling comfortable on it.

“So he’s going to be very tricky. He’s got a great serve as well and he’s an overall great athlete.”

De Minaur sits sixth in the race for the elite eight man ATP Tour Finals in Turin this year and Popyrin said the form line stacks up, though he is wary of providing any ammunition for Djokovic should they meet on Wednesday.

“I think he’s really got a good chance against Djokovic, but I don’t want to put any fire in it for Novak,” he said.

“I think ‘Demon’ if he brings his A-game and plays the way he’s been playing all year, than he knows himself he’s got a chance also. But he has to get through his first match also.”

Australia’s Alex De Minaur celebrates winning against Australia’s James Duckworth.Source: AFP