Aussie hopeful's stunning upset after last-minute Tokyo call-up

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·Sports Reporter
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Australia's Max Purcell pulled off a stunning upset against Canadian world No.15 Felix Auger-Aliassime, after only learning he would play two hours before the match. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Australia's Max Purcell pulled off a stunning upset against Canadian world No.15 Felix Auger-Aliassime, after only learning he would play two hours before the match. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

A week ago, Max Purcell's mind was far from the Tokyo Olympics.

The Australian doubles specialist had been looked over for a spot at the Games, but as they saying goes, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

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Purcell hadn't put his head down after missing out on a ticket, but even the late withdrawal of Alex de Minaur due to the coronavirus wasn't quite enough to get him a start in the singles bracket.

It wasn't until Britain's Andy Murray pulled out just two hours before his scheduled match against Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime that Purcell was told he'd been given the nod.

Finally, his opportunity came - and his preparation didn't let him down.

The 23-year-old made the most of it, serving with authority and showing few nerves in a composed 6-4 7-6 (7-2) defeat of the recent Wimbledon quarter-finalist.

Purcell had arrived in winning form after lifting the trophy at Kazakhstan's Nur Saltan Challenger event a week ago.

He'd also reached the semi-finals of Eastborne's ATP 250-level tournament before that, beating Kevin Anderson, Gael Monfis and Andreas Seppi along the way.

Purcell's defeat of the Canadian rising star sees him join John Millman and James Duckworth in the second round, where he'll face the winner of Dominik Koepfer and Facundo Bagnis. 

The world 190's defeat of Auger-Aliassime will likely go down as one of the best of his career, sending the 15th ranked Canadian packing.

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Ash Barty in shock first-round Games loss

Ash Barty has lamented a "loose and erratic" effort after she fell flat in a shock first-round Toyko Olympic loss to unheralded Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The world No.48 beat world No.1 and newly crowned Wimbledon champion Barty 6-4 6-3 in the biggest shock of the Games to date as the Australian fell apart in the blistering Tokyo heat.

Barty made a staggering 55 unforced errors to the Spaniard's 13, the Queenslander desperately out of sorts 15 days after clinching her second grand slam title.

"It was a tough day. A disappointing day. I can't lie about that," she told the Seven Network.

"I can't hide behind that fact that I wanted to do really well here. Today wasn't my day.

"Just loose. I knew I wanted to try to take the match on (and) it would be a fine line of not pushing too hard and not getting in the patterns I didn't want to get stuck in.

"(I was) too erratic."

The scorching, humid conditions had men's No.1 Novak Djokovic calling for matches to begin later in the day after his first-round victory on Saturday.

Although the schedule remained the same on Sunday, a concession was made with longer breaks at changes of ends as part of the extreme weather policy.

"It's brutal, like an Australian summer (but) I enjoy the heat and love playing out here in these conditions. Wasn't meant to be," Barty said.

With AAP

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