O’Connell beats Purcell in all-Australian battle at US Open 2023
Chris O'Connell scores a four-set victory over fellow Australian Max Purcell in opening-round singles action at US Open 2023.
Chris O’Connell has made an impressive start to his US Open 2023 campaign, scoring a four-set win over in-form compatriot Max Purcell in the opening round.
Purcell entered the tournament at a career-high ranking of world No.43 and having won 11 of his past 14 matches. This included two top-20 victories.
World No.69 O’Connell, on the other hand, had recorded only a single win from his past six matches.
Yet this pre-tournament form did not prove a factor, as O’Connell carved out a 6-4 6-3 3-6 7-6(5) victory in the all-Australian showdown at Court 15.
“I know Max really well, I’ve known him since he was eight,” O’Connell said.
“I’ve seen him develop over the years and of late he has been playing some unbelievable tennis.”
Yet the 29-year-old O’Connell handled Purcell’s variety with aplomb, allowing his fellow Sydneysider to win only 47 per cent of net points.
O’Connell also tallied 60 winners to Purcell’s 52 across the two-hour and 52-minute encounter.
The 25-year-old Purcell looked set to stage a steely comeback when he claimed the third set and then built a 3-1 advantage in the fourth set.
But the steady O’Connell responded by reeling off four consecutive games to give himself the opportunity to serve for the match.
Purcell broke to briefly keep his hopes alive, before O’Connell completed his victory in a fourth-set tiebreak.
“After the first two sets, I tried to change up what I was doing a little bit and it worked for patches there,” Purcell said.
“It would have been interesting if it went to a fifth I think, but he played really and deserved it.”
It is O’Connell’s sixth top-50 win of the season and his second career main-draw victory at the US Open.
He also reached the second round at Flushing Meadows in 2020, where he lost to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets.
World No.3 Medvedev will be his second-round opponent in New York once again.
The US Open 2021 champion made a commanding start to his campaign, conceding only two games in a first-round demolition of Hungarian Attila Balazs.
Although O’Connell has lost both of his previous meetings against Medvedev, he did extend the former world No.1 to three sets in Doha earlier this season.
“I feel I’ve got a good game style to maybe cause him some trouble,” O’Connell said.
It was a tough day for other Australian contenders in New York.
World No.12 Alexander Zverev proved too strong for Aleksandar Vukic, while James Duckworth and Thanasi Kokkinakis both lost against qualifiers.
Injury derailed Jason Kubler and Jordan Thompson’s campaigns, with both retiring during their first-round matches.
Alex de Minaur managed to buck that trend to score a first-round victory, but needed four sets to overcome qualifier Timofey Skatov.
Aussies in action – US Open
Men’s singles, first round
 Alex de Minaur (AUS) d [Q] Timofey Skatov (KAZ) 6-2 3-6 6-1 7-5
Chris O’Connell (AUS) d Max Purcell (AUS) 6-4 6-3 3-6 7-6(5)
 Alexander Zverev (GER) d Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 6-4 6-4 6-4
Matteo Arnaldi (ITA) d Jason Kubler (AUS) 6-3 3-0 ret.
Botic van de Zandschulp (NED) d Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 ret.
[Q] Hsu Yu-Hsiou (TPE) d Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-3
[Q] Felipe Meligeni Alves (BRA) d [LL] James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4 7-6(11) 6-3
Men’s singles, second round
 Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Wu Yibing (CHN)
Chris O’Connell (AUS) v  Daniil Medvedev
[WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS) v Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
Women’s singles, second round
Daria Saville (AUS) v  Iga Swiatek (USA)
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) v  Elena Rybakina (KAZ)
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