There’s red-hot form and then there’s Max Purcell’s form.
Winning 23 out of his past 26 matches since February 14th, some would describe him as being in another stratosphere.
An extraordinary month saw him claim a trio of ATP Challenger Tour titles in India.
Having claimed the Chennai Open in February, after rallying from a set down and saving two tournament points to defeat American Nicolas Moreno De Alboran in three thrilling sets, 5-7 7-6(2) 6-4, the resilient right-handed tennis ace took out the Bengaluru trophy after defeating compatriot James Duckworth in the final.
His next target was winning the challenger tournament in Pune and there he did not disappoint either, defeating Italian teenager Luca Nardi 6-2, 6-3 in the final. In doing so, he became the first Australian to claim three ATP Challenger titles in three consecutive weeks.
He also reached a final in Lille, France to cap off the sensational month. However, he lost that final in three sets to Finland's Otto Virtanen.
When one thinks of the incredible names Australian Tennis has boasted over the years, it puts into perspective how impressive his performance has been.
Having just celebrated his 25th birthday this week, the Aussie had more than one reason to celebrate achieving the quarter-of-a-century milestone.
The Australian’s sublime form has seen him skyrocket to a new career-high in the latest ATP Tour men’s singles rankings, rising to world number 86.
He has climbed 117 places in the world rankings since mid-February, and he has risen 135 spots since his 2022 year-ending singles ranking of 221.
In three months, that’s an incredible achievement. With that speed up the rankings, one could be forgiven for thinking he is a professional climber, not a tennis player.
Not only has he taken the tennis world by storm, he is also making in-roads passing his compatriots.
He has overtaken fellow Aussies Jordan Thompson, Alexei Popyrin, Thanasi Kokkinakis, James Duckworth, Rinky Hijikata and Aleksander Vukic.
He now becomes the fifth ranked Australian male.
Only Alex De Minaur, currently ranked 19, Nick Kyrgios, 27, Jason Kubler, 70, and Chris O'Connell 82 are ahead of him on the list of highest ranked Australians as we speak in the live rankings.
Purcell's trophy lifting ways have continued this week and whilst the priority has gone to singles in 2023, after an incredible doubles year last year and some great results proceeding 2022, he has just today gone back to back in doubles at the ATP 250 Mens Clay Court in Houston which he won twelve months ago with Matt Ebden and this year has partnered Jordan Thompson to defeat British duo Julian Cash and Henry Patten 4-6, 6-4, 10-5.
His doubles ranking at 59, like his singles ranking inside the top 100.
In the past week, Max has also claimed his first main-draw singles win at an ATP clay-court tournament.
The Sydneysider defeated Germany’s Daniel Altmaier in a rain-delayed opening round clash across four days in Houston 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 before going down to Argentinian Tomas Etcheverry 6-7(5), 1-6 in the Round of 16.
He’s come a long way since he began tennis training at the age of three, alongside his twin brother Harry with enormous upside still to come.
On the coaching front he is working with still active Aussie pro Dayne Kelly. The pair came together at the Australian Challengers in Playford and Sydney last year. He also works with former pro Marios Zelba originally from Sydney.
In 2021, when Purcell was still ranked between 200 and 250, Lleyton Hewitt’s former coach Nathan Healey who was working with Purcell at the time, told the First Serve he thought he could be a top 20 player.
While most players nowadays prefer to stay back hitting powerful groundstrokes, Purcell likes to serve and volley and come to the net often, like former Australian legend Pat Rafter.
Purcell’s combination of grit and determination, his ability to strike the ball with incredible power and then mix in great variety to vary the pace and slice makes him a tough match up.
He has consistently shown remarkable performances in doubles, highlighted by his Wimbledon heroics and late last year playing inspiring Davis Cup tennis for Australia. He’s also represented Australia at the Olympic Games.
Another former mentor, Peter Luczak, says that opportunity to be part of the Australian Davis Cup team would place him in good stead. Luczak is confident his former protégé has what it takes to challenge the top echelon of players.
“He’s definitely got the potential. Those three weeks will give him a lot of belief and a lot of confidence,” Luczak told The First Serve back in March. “If he keeps that form up, he’s inside the top 100 now but there’s no reason why he can’t finish the year top 50 which will be an incredible achievement for him.”
“He’s matured a lot so there’s no reason why he can’t have a big year. He’s got all the shots.
He’s got a great serve, a great slice backhand, he can move, he can defend, he can do everything.”
At just 25, his fine form has come at the right time. It has Aussie tennis fans wondering how far up the world rankings can Max continue to climb?