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Aussie highlights – Kokkinakis, Purcell win Challenger titles

It was too hard to pick a single Australian highlight this week, as both Max Purcell and Thanasi Kokkinakis earned titles on the Challenger tour to soar up the ATP rankings.

Max Purcell (AUS) def Nicolas Moreno de Alboran (USA) 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4

24-year-old Purcell won his seventh singles title at the level – saving two match points in Sunday’s final, before letting out an emphatic display of emotion when converting his own.

The 2022 Wimbledon doubles champion expressed in January that his priority will be the individual format this year and is already starting to reap the rewards.

“I’m trying to take a step away from doubles this year and trying to focus on my singles. Purcell said.

“My goal this year [is] to try and get inside the top 100 at some point.”

And the Aussie is well on track, having jumped up 48 places to a career-high world number 155.

[8] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) def [WC] Abedallah Shelbayh (JOR) 6-1, 6-4

After a devastating loss in Melbourne to Andy Murray, Kokkinakis picked himself up and reeled off five straight wins to claim his sixth ATP Challenger title in Bahrain.

Speaking last month as the world number 159, the Aussie was confident in getting his ranking back to single digits in swift fashion.

I know where my top level is at. If I'm there mentally and physically, I think I can get [my ranking] back up there pretty quick,” Kokkinakis said at the Australian Open.

And it took the 26-year-old just one week at Challenger level – leaping back inside the top 100 and allowing a rapid return to ATP level, and likely, Grand Slam main draws later this year.

Men’s highlight – Alacaraz returns to tour in style

After three-and-a-half months off-court with an abdominal tear and a right leg muscle injury, Carlos Alcaraz returned in Buenos Aires like he never left.

The 19-year-old ultimately reeled off his last seven sets to claim a seventh tour title – including a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Cam Norrie in the final – showcasing why he sits as the live favourite for the men’s Roland Garros title.

Women’s highlight - Swiatek’s historic dominance in Doha

Iga Swiatek has re-discovered her destructive best from 2022 to win her first title of the season at the WTA 500 in Doha.

The 21-year-old dropped just five games for the week, easing past Danielle Collins, Veronika Kudermetova, and Jessica Pegula.

The Pole – both in nationality and ranking position – begins her 47th week as world number one today and now sits a remarkable 4800 points clear of Aryna Sabalenka at number two.

Something Different – Pecotic enjoys success at second job

33-year-old Matija Pecotic remarkably scored his maiden ATP win this week – over a decade after his first professional match – defeating former top-10 American Jack Sock in Delray Beach.

More incredibly, the Florida-based Croatian’s tennis is only his second job – focusing most of his energy into a full-time real estate agency Director role, in Palm Beach.

Stat of the week – 5

That’s the amount of games Iga Swiatek lost on her way to the WTA 500 title in Doha.

No man or woman has ever dropped less en route to a tour-level title.

Albeit only playing three matches, the 21-year-old still had to overcome the world number 4, 11 and 2022 Australian Open finalist to lift the trophy.

On this day (Feb 20) in history:

On February 20, 2005 – 18-year-old Spaniard Rafael Nadal won his second career title in Brazil and kickstarted a momentous year where he would win his first of twenty-two (and counting) major titles.

On February 20, 2022 – 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won his second career title in Brazil and kickstarted a momentous year where he would win his first (of many?) major titles.

Other tour results:

Rotterdam: [6] Daniil Medvedev def Jannik Sinner 5-7, 6-2, 6-2

Delray Beach: [1] Taylor Fritz def [4] Miomir Kecmanovic 6-0, 5-7, 6-2


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