2021 Viking International Eastbourne

Sonego too hot to handle and bursts Purcell’s bubble

Back injury hampers Australian qualifier in maiden ATP Tour semi-final

Lorenzo Sonego, the world no.27, required three sets and little spot of luck to defeat the unknown quantity of Max Purcell 6–1 3–6 6–1.

With the rain lashing down during the morning, the semi-final showdown was shifted to No.1 Court and became a real see-saw contest that lasted 98 minutes as Purcell succumbed to fatigue.

No.3 seed Sonego, a passionate Italian player, had mauled his opponents throughout the week and monopolised the opening set with few problems.

But Purcell, who started the week ranked at world no.283, who obviously struggling around the court. After dropping the first set, the 23-year-old was given medical treatment for his back injury that was caused during his remarkable triumph over 2011 Eastbourne champion Andreas Seppi of Italy.

The Sydney rising star turned things around in the second set, with the Australian introducing serve and volley tactics, which left the spectators gasping as the drama unfolded and Purcell wrapped up the set with aplomb to force a decider.

The lively Sonego moved through the gears to totally dominate proceedings to sweep aside Purcell, bringing down the curtain on the lucky loser from qualifying who looked absolutely exhausted in the end.

Purcell’s breakthrough tournament means that he should be a player to watch out for in years to come, having enjoyed a fairytale run that included halting France’s world no.16 and top seed Gaël Monfils. Purcell had, before the Eastbourne event, only won a single ATP Tour-level main draw match during six years on the circuit.

Purcell explained: “That was my sixth three-setter in seven days, with a Doubles match on one of the days as well. It probably became a little bit too much tennis after not doing a whole lot in the last two weeks with a little bit of an injury, so I’m pretty proud of my efforts. Fingers crossed that I can start doing some similar damage in more tournaments like this.”

Sonego, who won his first ATP Tour title on the grass courts at the 2018 Antalya Open in Turkey, said: “Max is a great player, and it wasn’t easy today as he played unbelievable tennis at the net.”

Result | Sonego defeated Purcell 6–1 3–6 6–1

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