Aussie Purcell overpowered by Fritz in first ATP final

Max Purcell's hopes of going into Wimbledon on the back of his first ATP title have been shattered as the Australian maverick couldn't live with the precision serving of American Taylor Fritz in the Eastbourne International final.

Fritz, who will go back to the US No.1 spot after his 6-4 6-3 victory at Devonshire Park in the English southern coast seaside resort, warmed up for Wimbledon on Saturday with a record third title in the traditional pre-SW19 tournament.

But the 26-year-old Sydneysider will travel the 120km north to London for next week's grass-court grand slam in good heart after a breakthrough week in which he reached his first ATP final under a new coach.

Fritz wins
Taylor Fritz celebrates his third triumph in the Eastbourne International. (AP PHOTO)

Purcell saluted the efforts of former Slovenian Blaz Kavcic, who's just joined his camp and, according to the single-minded Australian, already made a difference.

"Yeah, obviously a huge, huge week for me," Purcell told the crowd at the venue where he's enjoyed his biggest successes as a singles player, having also reached the semi-finals in 2021.

"And to my new coach Blaz, it's been a hell of a ride this week. Thanks for being here, late call.  I really appreciate everything this week you did for me. Felt like my first week as a professional tennis player, honestly, so thank you.

"This is a really special place for me and I couldn't think of any other better place to do it right before Wimbledon."

Fritz, who'll go into Wimbledon as the world No.12 having moved back ahead of Queen's champ Tommy Paul as top American, was still not quite at his fittest after picking up an injury during his marathon victory over another Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis at the French Open.

Yet he was still too strong for Purcell, winning 89 per cent of points when he got his first serve in, powering down nine aces and not giving up a single break-point chance in the 69-minute victory.

In the second set, Fritz had only given up a single point on serve until the final game, when Purcell produced some late heroics, saving three championship points with fine counter-attacking until the American finally added to the two titles he had previously won in 2019 and 2022.

"Fantastic player," Purcell told Wimbledon No.13 seed Fritz. "I'm stoked whenever I get to play you top players, I enjoy every second of being on court. Thanks for the experience."

Purcell will get a day's rest before being plunged into action on Wimbledon's opening Monday, up against Finnish qualifier Otto Virtanen, the world No.149.