Aussie duo Purcell, Vukic into Eastbourne singles semis

It was meant to be just a gentle final-week tune-up at the English seaside before Wimbledon - but Max Purcell and Aleksandar Vukic are having such a great time at Eastbourne that they can even dare dream of lifting their maiden ATP singles crown.

Both reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International at Devonshire Park on Thursday, only the second time that the two Australian stalwarts have ever got that far in any ATP tour-level event.

And there's even the rarest of opportunities for them to set up a pre-Wimbledon, all-Australian ATP final with Purcell to face the surprise British breakout star of the men's summer, Billy Harris, and Vukic meeting American star Taylor Fritz in the other last-four encounter.

Max Purcell has also made it to the semi-finals of the tournament where he broke through in 2021. (AP PHOTO)

For Purcell, a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) victory over Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic was another demonstration of how much he enjoys himself at Devonshire Park, which was also the scene of his only other semi-final when, still known as a doubles specialist, he made his big singles breakthrough in 2021.

And Vukic, a 'lucky loser' who was knocked out in qualifying, has been left celebrating the rarest of feats by getting back into the main draw and then defeating the man who had originally knocked him out of the event just four days earlier.

Yoshihito Nishioka had defeated the 28-year-old Sydneysider in straight sets on Sunday, but Vukic, who was reinstated into the main draw after another player's withdrawal, took full advantage of his second chance to win his third match in a row, prevailing 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-5).

But it was a much closer affair this time. Vukic looked as if he may have missed his chance when the Japanese saved match point at 4-5 in the final set and took the match to a tiebreak, which he led 5-2, moving just two points away from victory.

But the prospect of another defeat only brought out the best in Vukic, who reeled off the final five points in a row to win as he homed in closer on bringing back the title that was won by Alex de Minaur in 2021 to Australia.

"You get a second life, so make the most of it," smiled Vukic. "My first semi-final of the year, it means a lot to me.

"I knew it was going to be a tough match again and it was. He played a very good match, and that third set was really high quality from both off us. I was happy to come through that one."

Vukic will have a tough afternoon in the semi-final, though, with Fritz, who will go back to being American No.1 ahead of Tommy Paul going into Wimbledon, having edged two tie-breaks in a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) quarter-final win over Japanese teenage star Shang Juncheng.

Purcell also won't find it easy against Harris, the late-blooming 29-year-old from the Isle of Man whose rise this summer has captured the imagination of British fans who didn't know much about the beanpole who used to roll up to tournaments in his van where he'd sleep overnight while trawling round Europe on the cheap.

But the world No.139 Harris can't stop making breakthroughs, this time upsetting Italian world No.49 Flavio Cobolli 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to reach his third grass-court semi-final of the summer.