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PURCELL PUSHES RUUD AS TOMLJANOVIC AND KOKKINAKIS FALL



It was a tough day for the locals at Melbourne Park as Max Purcell,  Thanasi Kokkinakis, and Ajla Tomljanovic all bowed out marking the end of their singles campaigns on a bumper day 5 that extended into the early hours of this morning.  

 

Finishing after midnight, Tomljanovic fell victim to the ever-entertaining Latvian Jelena Ostapenko 0-6, 6-3, 4-6. 

 

Having waited three hours past their anticipated start time, eleventh seed Ostapenko was clearly in a rush as she took the first set in a heartbeat winning 25 points to Tomljanovic’s 7. 

 

Despite not finding her feet until after the first set was already gone, Tomljanovic, who remains in the early stages of her comeback from the knee injury that caused her to miss last year’s Australian Open, managed to compose herself and chart a way back into the match holding her serve the for the first time before breaking in the sixth game of the set.   

 

The third set, however, went the way of the Latvian and former French Open champion as she booked her fifth visit to the round of 32 at Melbourne Park.

 

“I feel like I blinked and it was over. It felt like a really quick match. She came out swinging, and I knew I should expect that, but I wasn't ready,” Tomljanovic told the media.

 

“She really put me in uncomfortable positions. I never felt like I could play my game. There was a lot of defending.

 

“Credit to her, she never slowed down. In the end, it was just a few points here or there. I felt like I got a bit, actually, I wouldn't say unlucky, but she just played great on those breakpoints I had.”

 

Importantly and notwithstanding the loss, Tomljanovic is optimistic about her ability to find her best form now that her knee is “pain-free”.

 

“If I can kind of summarize this Aussie summer, I'm pretty happy with where I'm at and how I've responded under pressure really because as much as I'm kind of coming back, I did expect myself to play well.

 

“So I definitely think I just need more court time and it will come at some point.”

 

In the match prior, South Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis went down to a red-hot Grigor Dimitrov in four sets 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 4-6 on John Cain Arena.

 

Kokkinakis, who confessed to the media he was managing a side strain complaint, was outclassed from the get-go with Dimitrov clinching an early break and rarely looking troubled until he was broken late in the fourth set. 

 

Speaking post-match Kokkinakis said he was unable to trouble the Bulgarian’s backhand as intended.

 

“I just found it very difficult to dictate going into his backhand”, he said.

 

“I was trying to dictate and get him to go to the slice as much as possible, but his slice was unreal today. It felt like he barely missed one, and the ones he was hitting, he was, like, knifing. They were just clearing the net, and it made it very difficult to attack.

 

“You want to open him up, and he has a great running forehand. I just felt like I had to work for everything. Very few free points. Yeah, he is definitely in some great form right now.”

 

Earlier on Margaret Court Arena, Max Purcell pushed eleventh seed Casper Ruud to five sets in an enthralling three-hour-fifty-minute battle.

 

The 25-year-old rallied back from a set behind on multiple occasions to ultimately force a decider; the first fifth set of his career.

 

After serving his way to a match tiebreak, Purcell’s level dipped, allowing Ruud to take a 7-2 lead and carry the momentum to a 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 [10-7] victory.

 

The Aussie, who entered the Australian Open main draw directly for the first time, fired

a staggering ninety-three winners to Ruud’s forty-four but was ultimately unable to stand up in crucial moments (1/13 on break points) including in the match tiebreak.

 

“[I] committed to a more aggressive game style today. I was happy that I kind of continued it throughout the whole four-hour match and got so close,” Purcell told the media.

 

“[I’m] looking to take that confidence into the rest of the season.”

 

The world number 45 in singles – up from 205 twelve months ago – is still alive in the men’s doubles draw, partnering Jordan Thompson, with the pair to play their first-round match on Friday. 

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