How this Australian tennis player met his future girlfriend in Dubai

Alexei Popyrin, who was a ball kid in the 2009 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, will play in the 2024 edition of the tournament which starts on Monday


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Australian tennis player and Dubai resident Alexei Popyrin with his girlfriend Amy. — X
Australian tennis player and Dubai resident Alexei Popyrin with his girlfriend Amy. — X

Published: Sun 25 Feb 2024, 9:11 PM

Last updated: Sun 25 Feb 2024, 10:47 PM

Born to Russian parents in Sydney, Alexei Popyrin spent a considerable time of his childhood in Dubai.

It was in Dubai that he got his first opportunity to experience big-time tennis, working as a ball kid and enjoying a few hits with tennis legend Jim Courier at the 2009 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Now Popyrin is a top-50 ATP singles player who is now back in Dubai for this year’s ATP 500 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships which starts on Monday.

“Every time I come back for the tournament, for me it’s, you know, I remember hitting on the court outside, with my dad and then getting called up to play on the centre court with Jim Courier in 2009 when I was nine years old,” the 24-year-old Australian player told the Khaleej Times.

“So to hit with Jim Courier, that was for me an experience I will never forget and probably one of the nicest experiences I have had as a kid to be able to go out and hit with one of the legends of the sport, so that was amazing for me and every time I come here, I remember that.”

Still a Dubai resident, tennis is not his only connection with the bustling Emirate.

It was in Dubai that he also met his future girlfriend, Amy.

“Yeah, I live here now and so every time, I come back to Dubai, it feels like home for me. You know I grew up here, I went to school (Repton School) here, I met my girlfriend here, so everything leads back to Dubai for me,” he said.

So how did he meet his girlfriend in Dubai?

“We went to the class together (in Dubai), so we were in the same math class when we were eight years old and we kind of kept in touch since then,” he said.

“And then when were 18 years old, she was in London and I was there for the Queens (tennis tournament) and we met up, and we have been dating ever since.”

Popyrin and Amy, who was born in Zimbabwe to English parents, have now become a proud owner of a house in Dubai.

“Yeah, we just bought a house together in Dubai, we picked up the keys last week,” he said.

Popyrin’s heart also fills with gratitude for Dubai which has played a big role in his growth as a professional tennis player.

“They (Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships) have supported me well. They gave me my first ATP wild card to an ATP event, I played the qualifiers here, I remember I lost. It was my first experience against a top 100 player, I remember it was Denis Istomin. I lost 6-4 6-0. That was an eye-opening experience for me,” he said.

“So without that experience, without that wild card, I don’t know if there would have been me, a player who is now in the top 50.

“Also they gave me my first opportunity in the main draw here and last year, my ranking was not very high and fortunately I got a wild card again.

“I didn’t do too good, but it helped me figure out what I needed to work on for the rest of the year and I finished the year as a top 40 player, so that really helped me a lot.”

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