Nishioka too strong for Purcell at Roland Garros
Max Purcell’s breakthrough campaign at Roland Garros has ended in a four-set loss to No.27 seed Yoshihito Nishioka.
Max Purcell’s breakthrough campaign at Roland Garros has ended in a four-set loss to Yoshihito Nishioka.
Purcell went down 4-6 6-2 7-5 6-4, leaving Thanasi Kokkinakis as the last remaining Australian in the men’s singles draw.
Earlier on Tuesday, 18th seed Alex de Minaur fell in straight sets to Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
Purcell has enjoyed a magnificent 2023 season, slashing his ranking from 220th to No.68 after building a 39-10 win-loss record.
Just four of those wins had come on clay, yet one of them was a first-round win in Paris over countryman Jordan Thompson – the first Grand Slam main-draw match win of his career.
But Nishioka, the No.27 seed, proved a barrier too high to clear.
In a match defined by both players’ aggression and willingness to change direction with their shots, Nishioka was steadier as Purcell’s game increasingly leaked unforced errors.
Purcell broke in the sixth game en route to capturing the first set, but dropped serve early in the second set as the Japanese lefty began to get on top.
Nishioka reeled off six of the next seven games to level the match, and took the third when Purcell committed his 46th unforced error.
That tally hit 52 when Purcell sent a swinging volley into the doubles alley, handing Nishioka a 3-0 lead in the fourth.
The 25-year-old Australian rallied impressively, breaking back immediately and then recovering from 0-40 to hold serve in the seventh game.
As he cut the unforced errors out of his game and forced Nishioka to work harder to win points, the 27th seed became visibly frustrated as he struggled to put the Aussie away.
In a mammoth eighth game extending beyond 10 minutes, Nishioka required eight game points – while saving a break point – to eventually hold.
Purcell held in the next game to force Nishioka to serve for it, but Nishioka was up to the task, progressing to the third round at Roland Garros for the first time in his career.
Aussies in action – Roland Garros
Men’s singles, second round
 Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) d Max Purcell (AUS) 4-6 6-2 7-5 6-4
Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) d  Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-3 7-6(2) 6-3
Men’s doubles, second round
 Lloyd Glasspool (GBR)/Harri Heliovaara (FIN) d Alexei Popyrin (AUS)/Ilya Ivashka 7-6(3) 7-5
Men’s singles, third round
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v  Karen Khachanov
Men’s doubles, second round
John Peers (AUS)/Marcelo Melo (BRA) v TBC
Max Purcell (AUS)/Ben Shelton (USA) v Francisco Cabral (POR)/Rafael Matos (BRA)
Women’s doubles, first round
 Storm Hunter (AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) v Danielle Collins (USA)/Emma Navarro (USA)
Women’s doubles, second round
 Ellen Perez (AUS)/Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) v Alycia Parks (USA)/Peyton Stearns (USA)
Mixed doubles, first round
 Lyudmyla Kichenok (UKR)/Matt Ebden (AUS) v Ena Shibahara (JPN)/Jackson Withrow (USA)
 Ellen Perez (AUS)/Jan Zielinski (POL) v Chan Hao-Ching (TPE)/Fabrice Martin (FRA)
Storm Hunter (AUS)/John Peers (AUS) v [WC] Leolia Jeanjean/Jonathan Eysseric (FRA)
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