Max Purcell and Alexei Popyrin have advanced to the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Open in a remarkable 21-year first for Aussie tennis. Just 24 hours after beating World No.7 Casper Ruud for the biggest win of his career, Purcell backed it up with a 6-4 6-2 win over three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka.
Ranked outside the top 200 at the start of the year, the 25-year-old has rocketed up to No.70 and has a 'live' ranking of 47. Seen primarily as a doubles specialist, Purcell famously won the Wimbledon doubles title alongside Matt Ebden in 2022.
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But he has shown he is equally as good a singles player and has now advanced to the first Masters 1000 quarter-final of his career. Even more remarkable is the fact he took down Wawrinka so easily after the Swiss veteran had been in superb form in Cincinnati.
The 38-year-old Wawrinka had advanced to the showdown with Purcell after beating World No.10 Frances Tiafoe. He looks to be going some way to recapturing the form that saw him win three grand slams during the Federer-Djokovic-Nadal era.
Purcell began the year at World No.220, but won three ATP Challenger Tour titles and showed some brilliant form on the Asian circuit. He is now poised to break into the top 50 when the rankings are updated next.
“The last two weeks I’ve had this really good routine in between every point and at the change of ends,” Purcell said. “Some of the things I say to myself, it’s really helped me mentally in-between every point, kind of just re-set and not worry about it. Honestly, I haven’t felt too nervous in the biggest occasions. I’ve taken it point-by-point and told myself that, and yeah, it’s worked.”
Purcell will play World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz in the final after the Spaniard beat America's Tommy Paul 7-6 (8-6) 0-6 6-3.
Won 3 challengers in India (Chennai, Bangalore and Pune) at the start of the year and now has made it to the quarterfinals at Cincinnati after drubbing Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2. What a rise for Max Purcell from outside the top 200 to the top 50! https://t.co/jc0qdPXjH9
— PP (@PrashantSport) August 17, 2023
He's is so good! Think the next gonna be close!
— Tennis Girl (@AiTennisGirls) August 17, 2023
Purcell’s serve was the key 😰😥🥺😭 Too much for Stan 🥺😰
— Red (@RedRF_) August 17, 2023
Stan struggled with the serve volley that Purcell played a lot.
Purcell himself said in the on court interview that serve volley was his gameplan since Wawrinka likes to block returns.
— Toptennistweets (@Toptennis_tweet) August 17, 2023
Alexei Popyrin advances to first Masters 1000 quarter-final
Earlier on Thursday, fellow Aussie young gun Popyrin also advanced to a first Masters 1000 quarter-final after beating Emil Ruusuvuori 6-2 1-6 6-3. Popyrin only came into the main draw in Cincinnati as a lucky loser, but has made the most of the opportunity - beating Daniel Altmaier before getting a walkover against Nicolás Jarry.
It means he is the first lucky loser to make the quarters in Cincinnati since 2012. It also makes the first time in 21 years that two Aussie males have made the final eight at the event.
The feats of Purcell and Popyrin come after Australia's men's No.1 Alex de Minaur suffered a 7-5 6-4 loss to Gael Monfils on Wednesday. De Minaur has been in red-hot form over the last few weeks, making back-to-back finals at the Los Cabos Open and Canadian Open. However he wasn't able to continue his form in Cincinnati.
Nevertheless, the likes of De Minaur, Purcell and Popyrin have shown there is hope for Aussie tennis despite Nick Kyrgios' prolonged absence. Kyrgios won't be in action at the US Open later this month due to persistent injuries, and will miss all four grand slams this year. De Minaur recently rose to No.12 in the rankings - one place higher than Kyrgios' career-best of 13 and the highest of any Aussie male since Lleyton Hewitt in 2006.
This guy is one of those guys outside the top 10 I like so much, congrats 👏
— Eustace Onuh (@EustaceOnuh) August 17, 2023
Alexander Zverev gets the better of Daniil Medvedev
Alexander Zverev earlier upset third seed Daniil Medvedev 6-4 5-7 6-4 in a windy clash between former champions. Zverev came into the match with a 6-9 record against Medvedev in their careers and lost all three of their previous meetings this year.
But the German broke his Russian opponent three times and saved six of eight break points to seal victory in two hours 32 minutes. "Very difficult conditions but also a very difficult opponent," 16th seed Zverev said in his on-court interview.
"He is somebody that gives you absolutely nothing. You have to win the match yourself and that's what I did today and I am pleased with that."
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