Max Purcell wins all-Sydney battle with Jordan Thompson at Roland Garros

Max Purcell has earned the first grand slam singles victory of his career at Roland Garros.

Max Purcell has earned the first grand slam singles victory of his career at Roland Garros. Photo: Getty

Max Purcell has won the first all-Australian battle at the French Open in eight years, downing his fellow Sydneysider and occasional doubles partner Jordan Thompson in a Roland Garros dogfight.

Purcell, who won an ATP doubles tournament with Thompson in Houston only last month, prevailed 7-5 1-6 6-4 6-4 to ensure there will be four Australian men in the second round at the Paris slam for the first time in 23 years.

It continued an extraordinary breakthrough year for Wimbledon doubles champ Purcell, who’s been concentrating on his singles ambitions this year and has shot up to No.68 in the rankings from being way back at No.203 in February.

This was his first-ever singles win in a fifth grand slam main draw appearance – another breakthrough in a year when he’s already reached six singles finals, winning three, in second-tier Challenger events.

The only Australians in singles action on Tuesday, it felt somewhat unfortunate that the two national teammates who’ve played doubles together on Davis Cup duty should be pitted against each other when both have been in such fine form of late.

It was the first time two Australians had met in the Roland Garros singles since Thanasi Kokkinakis beat Bernard Tomic in the second round in 2015, and the first time a pair had met in a first-round duel in 22 years since Wayne Arthurs defeated Pat Rafter.

Thompson, the world No.76, had defeated Purcell in a second-tier Challenger final in South Korea at the start of the month and went in with a 3-1 career advantage over his younger teammate.

This time, though, Purcell was in inspired form, cashing in on the sole break point of the entire stanza to take the first set before Thompson won six games on the bounce to level the match.

Things looked ominous for Purcell when he winced after seemingly jarring his ankle at the end of the second set.

Though he had an end-of-set conversation with the trainer and appeared to be limping slightly, it seemed only to inspire him to go for broke and he was the one prepared subsequently to risk more, firing 20 more winners than Thompson.

The 25-year-old earned a single break in each of the last two sets as he appeared to get stronger as the match progressed and he finished the job after two hours 51 minutes of dogged combat with a glorious backhand down the line, his 49th winner of the contest.

Purcell faces Japan’s 27th seed Yoshihito Nishioka or American JJ Wolf next in the last-64 while compatriots Kokkinakis, Alex de Minaur and Jason Kubler will also be in second-round action.


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