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Alex de Minaur crashes back to earth as Max Purcell stuns in 'crazy' tennis drama

It was a dramatic day for Australia's tennis players at the Cincinnati Open.

Alex de Minaur and Max Purcell at the Cincinnati Open.
Alex de Minaur lost to Gael Monfils, but Max Purcell shocked Casper Ruud. Image: AAP/Getty

Alex de Minaur has suffered a brutal loss to Gael Monfils in the second round of the Cincinnati Open, but fellow Aussie Max Purcell shocked World No.7 Casper Ruud in a major boilover. In just his third career match against a top-10 player, Purcell produced an incredible 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory over an opponent who has reached three of the last six grand slam finals.

The Aussie's win came in just under two hours, marking his seventh win in eight matches over the last two weeks - and the first for his career against a top-10 player. Purcell was ranked outside the world's top 200 just 12 months ago, and was seen primarily as a doubles player.

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However he has rocketed up the singles rankings this year after an impressive streak on the Asian circuit. He was hampered by an ankle injury and endured some indifferent form on clay and grass, but Purcell has managed to stay in the top 80 since May and is now seeking to push on in the north American hardcourt season.

Ruud is ranked 63 places above Purcell, and got the better of the Aussie in US Open qualifying five years ago. But the fifth seed encountered stiff resistance in the pair's first meeting on the tour since that match.

After the first two sets were shared, Purcell forced a break point at 4-3 in the third. Ruud's serve then set up a smash the Australian could not return, but after fending off three break points of his own in the next game, Purcell held to go 5-4 up before two long forehands from Ruud presented match point and then victory.

Max Purcell, pictured here after his win over Casper Ruud at the Cincinnati Open.
Max Purcell celebrates his win over Casper Ruud at the Cincinnati Open. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Alex de Minaur sufferd shock loss to Gael Monfils

It wasn't as good for Australian No.1 De Minaur, who crashed out 7-5 6-4 at the hands of 36-year-old Frenchman Monfils. De Minaur reached back-to-back finals at Los Cabos and Toronto in the last two weeks, rising to No.12 in the rankings in the process. However he couldn't continue his torrid form on Wednesday as Monfils showed his veteran smarts to down the Aussie.

Nevertheless, De Minaur is taking some red-hot form into the US Open. He will be Australia's top male hope in the absence of the injured Nick Kyrgios, who will miss all four grand slam tournament this year.

De Minaur's rise to 12 in the rankings is one better than Kyrgios' career-high mark of 13th, and makes him the highest-ranked Aussie male since Lleyton Hewitt in 2006. "Looking at the results, I'm pretty happy with where my level is at and how I'm continuously chipping away towards my goals," the 24-year-old said before Wednesday's loss.

"Step by step, I feel like I'm getting better. I'm showing my level against top opponents, day in and day out. This week was a great week for me. I'm feeling confident. I'm going to be ranked 12 and I've still got plenty and plenty of areas to improve on. I think it's going to be the case my whole career but that's the beauty of it, so it's exciting for me."

Alexei Popyrin gets walkover into third round at Cincinnati

Jannik Sinner, who beat De Minaur in the Canadian Open final last week, earlier suffered a shock 6-4 7-6 (7-4) loss to Serbia's Dusan Lajovic. The Italian earned his first Masters 1000 title when he beat De Minaur, but was unable to keep his momentum going.

Already into the third round is fellow Aussie Alexei Popyrin, who progressed on a walkover after opponent Nicolas Jarry withdrew to return to Chile for the birth of his second child. Former champion Daniil Medvedev beat Lorenzo Musetti of Italy 6-3 6-2.

"We both made some mistakes, we both made some double faults and stuff like this," said the third seed. "But I managed to be a little bit better in the important moments."

with AAP

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