Los Cabos, Mexico, 20 February 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Los Cabos, Mexico

Max Purcell and Thanasi Kokkinakis have made impressive starts at an ATP 250 tournament in Los Cabos, beating higher-ranked opponents in their opening-round matches.

Purcell posted his biggest singles victory since August, edging out a 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory against world No.41 Matteo Arnaldi at the hard-court event.

The 25-year-old Australian battled for two hours and 30 minutes to notch his sixth career top-50 win and snap a seven-match losing streak against top-50 opponents.

“I haven’t won too many matches at the start of this year and Matteo is a hell of a player, so I was quite worried to be playing him,” Purcell said. “He’s a really dangerous unseeded player.”

World No.51 Purcell was particularly tested in the closing stages of the final set, where he almost squandered a 5-1 advantage against the 22-year-old Italian.

Three match points were missed, on Arnaldi’s service games in the seventh and ninth games, before Purcell clinched victory by holding to love in the 10th game.

“I thought I played a really solid last game to finish,” Purcell said.

“Thankfully he missed a few balls there at the end, instead of turning it up like those last few games.”

Only two points separated them in the end, with Purcell winning 101 to Arnaldi’s 99.

Purcell enjoyed an incredible run at a series of ATP Challenger events in India at this time last year, winning three consecutive titles to break into the world’s top 100.

Relishing the opportunity to compete at tour-level tournaments this year, Purcell is not concerned about defending 300 ranking points over this period.

“Honestly, it’s okay. I’ve already forgotten about that. I’m more focused on just trying to get better every day,” Purcell said.

Purcell’s second-round opponent is yet to be decided. He’ll face either German Dominik Koepfer or Portugal’s Nuno Borges.

Kokkinakis fell outside of the world’s top 100 this week, sliding to No.103 after his ranking points for winning an ATP Challenger in Bahrain last year dropped off.

The 27-year-old has bounced back strongly, defeating world No.53 Jack Draper today in an absorbing two-hour and 58-minute battle.

Draper served for the match in the second set, before Kokkinakis charged home to triumph 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4 against the 22-year-old Brit.

“I knew the match was going to be tough. I played him in the Davis Cup Finals last year and I served for the match and lost,” Kokkinakis said.

“That definitely came into my mind when I was serving for it at the end there.

“It was a very tough match, but I’m very happy with how I played.”

This sets up a second-round showdown with another British player, world No.42 Dan Evans.

Aussies in action – Los Cabos

Men’s singles, first round
[7] Max Purcell (AUS) d Matteo Arnaldi (ITA) 6-4 4-6 6-4
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d Jack Draper (GBR) 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4

Men’s doubles, first round
[WC] Hans Hach Verdugo (MEX)/Luis David Martinez (VEN) d Rinky Hijikata (AUS)/Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 6-4 3-6 [11-9]
Nuno Borges (POR)/Andre Goransson (SWE) d Andrew Harris (AUS)/Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-6(6) 6-2

Men’s singles, first round
[8] Jordan Thompson (AUS) v [WC] Ernesto Escobedo (MEX)
Rinky Hijikata (AUS) v [6] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB)
Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) v [WC] Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez (MEX)

Men’s singles, second round
[3] Alex de Minaur (AUS) v Alex Michelsen (USA)
[7] Max Purcell (AUS) v TBC
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) v Dan Evans (GBR)

Men’s doubles, first round
[3] John Peers (AUS)/Harri Heliovaara (FIN) v Guido Andreozzi (ARG)/Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela (MEX)
[4] Max Purcell (AUS)/Jordan Thompson (AUS) v Petros Tsitsipas (GRE)/Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)

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