Melbourne, Australia, 16 January 2024 | Jackson Mansell

It might have taken seven match points, but Max Purcell has advanced to the second round at the Australian Open for the first time.

After a shaky start, the world No.45 found his rhythm to defeat Hungarian qualifier Mate Valkusz 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4 7-5.

Fresh off a qualifying campaign last week, Valkusz jumped out of the blocks in the opening set, dominating all facets of the game. Leading the winners column and only dropping five points on serve, the world No.214 cruised to win the first set.

Purcell tightened his serve in the second set, conceding just six points in his service games.

Remaining on serve, a tiebreak was needed to separate the pair, where Purcell came out victorious. Putting the Hungarian under pressure, Purcell stood tall to win seven of the nine points contested in the tiebreak.

Quick service games from both players kept break point opportunities to a minimum in the third set, as 67 per cent of rallies were kept under nine shots.

After 18 games, the Sydneysider found a break, helping him to successfully serve for the set in the following game.

Purcell kicked into gear in the fourth set, as he raced to a double-break lead. However, his inability to close out the match saw the fourth set back on serve.

Broken in his next two service games, the Australian relinquished six match points in a gruelling 10th game.

Finding his feet again, the 25-year-old broke once again, before successfully serving out the match.

“I feel like if I stay calm enough after getting broken, I feel like I always get rewarded with another break back,” Purcell said after two consecutive breaks.

“Obviously it was disappointing to not hold there and then be two games away from winning, but it is what it is. Just be calm and you’ll get rewarded.”

This sets up a second-round showdown against Casper Ruud, who he defeated at the Cincinnati Masters last year. Getting in done in difficult conditions in their previous outing, Purcell believes a home-court advantage can see him replicate that feat.

“I played Casper in Cincinnati in relatively lively conditions. Balls are a little lighter there and more bouncy, but it’s hot here,” Purcell said of their second-round match-up.

“I’ll have the crowd on my side and I’m more than happy to give him another crack.”

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Aussies in action – Australian Open

Men’s singles, first round
Max Purcell (AUS) d [Q] Mate Valkusz (HUN) 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4 7-5
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d Sebastian Ofner (AUT) 7-6(1) 2-6 6-7(4) 7-6(8)
Alex Michelsen (USA) d [WC] James McCabe (AUS) 7-6(5) 3-6 6-1 6-2

Women’s singles, first round
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) d Petra Martic (CRO) 7-6(3) 4-6 6-4
[11] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) d [WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS) 7-6(5) 6-1
Sloane Stephens (USA) d [WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS) 6-3 6-1

Men’s singles, second round
[10] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Matteo Arnaldi (ITA)
Alexei Popyrin (AUS)
 v [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Jordan Thompson (AUS) v [7] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)
Max Purcell (AUS) v [11] Casper Ruud (NOR)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v [13] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
Chris O’Connell (AUS) v [16] Ben Shelton (USA)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2024 men’s singles draw

Women’s singles, second round
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) v [11] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 
[Q] Storm Hunter (AUS)
 v Laura Siegemund (GER)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2024 women’s singles draw

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