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Brown snatches sudden-death win over Popyrin

Dustin Brown, “The Artist”, produced a superb comeback as he recovered to snatch victory over Australian Alexei Popyrin in sudden death at the UTS on Saturday.

Dustin Brown, UTS 2020 Dustin Brown, UTS 2020

Brown won the first quarter with a series of stunning shots but Popyrin, “The Sniper” hit back well to win the next two and at 8-3 in the fourth, it looked as if he would go on to win it.

But it was the German who pinched the win in sudden death as he won it 4-2 to win 21-10, 13-19, 15-17, 18-11, 4-2 and finish his UTS campaign with two wins out of eight, dropping Popyrin’s record to three wins and six defeats.

On his final appearance at UTS1, Brown was clearly determined to show his best tennis and he did just that with some spectacular shot-making.

The first quarter saw the German at his very best and he won it 21-10, using the winner x 3 card to good effect midway through and then extending his lead as Popyrin let the quarter go.

“I’m not used to talking to you guys first, it’s a nice feeling,” said Brown, who had made a habit of slow starts in his previous matches. “The body feels good, everything feels good, been training hard. Last match of UTS1, just trying to enjoy it.”

Popyrin went into the match on the back of three straight defeats, each time losing the first three quarters. His demeanour, at times, was understandably low, but he told the commentators he was determined to change things this time.

“Everybody’s told me I needed to cheer up, so here I am, I’m cheered up,” he said.

Popyrin hits back

The Sniper began the second quarter much better as he led 5-0 but Brown hit back and at 9-9, his coach Marco Spitzlay called a timeout, though it seemed it had been prompted by the German himself. “I just wanted to sit down and have a little chat,” he said.

Popyrin was not put off his stride though and he won the next four points to take control, though Brown produced a stunning “smash lob” to get back in it at 13-11. But Popyrin held on and finished with an ace to take it 19-13 and level the match.

“Yes,” he said. “Winning a set without losing the match yet. Last three matches I went 3-0 down and basically lost the match before winning a set. I’m just trying to keep myself from being too down on myself, it doesn’t help at all.”

With his serve now clicking nicely, Popyrin was always in charge in the third quarter, leading 11-5, before holding off a late fightback from Brown to take it 17-15.

Brown finds hot streak

Spitzlay told Brown at a timeout that he felt it was better when he used his UTS cards early and the German took his advice, trying it at 3-1 down. It didn’t help, as Popyrin moved ahead 6-2 and then 8-3 only for Brown to produce a sensational run of points, winning seven in a row to lead 10-8.

Popyrin still had his winner x 3 card, using it at 13-9 down. After losing the first point, Brown took a coaching timeout to break his rhythm. When they returned, Popyrin slammed an ace but it was overruled. “Not on the far line, you can’t do that,” he said.

Brown held on easily to win the quarter 18-11 to force sudden death, the first time either player had experienced it in the competition. Serving first, Brown led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 but Popyrin held firm until finishing with a double-fault to hand the German victory.

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