Confident Alexei Popyrin knows how to challenge Rafael Nadal in Madrid

The young Aussie Alexei Popyrin kicked off the new season with 15 ATP wins under his belt, matching that number already by early March and playing with a lot of confidence.

In Madrid, Popyrin took down Jan-Lennard Struff and Jannik Sinner in straight sets to set the clash against the 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal on Thursday. Felling confident, Alexei will give his best to challenge a great rival and produce his best tennis, saying he has the level to compete against the top-20 rivals and improve his ranking position in the upcoming months.

"I'm just going to go out and have fun. I've got to play against Rafael Nadal on his favorite surface, and he's the greatest of all time on clay. Maybe, I'll watch a bit of his 2009 loss against Soderling and get some tips from there, try and build some tactics on how to play against him. I'm not going to go out there thinking, 'I'm going to lose 6-1, 6-1. I'm going to give it my all, put in a fight. I have to believe that I can actually play because I think I have the level to stay competitive against Rafa.

All the cards are in his favor, but I don't mind being the underdog. I have been the underdog for most of my career, so I'm glad to be able to be one. It's hard to rate this match against Jannik.

He is a good player, but I don't think he's miles ahead of my level. I came into the match feeling confident. I didn't step on the court thinking I would lose or that he would blow me off. His ranking might be higher, but I think my game is up there with the people who are ranked inside the top 20," Alexei Popyrin said.

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