With a terrific back-to-the-wall performance, Max Purcell secured his second straight ATP singles Challenger title (fourth overall), beating James Duckworth 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(5) at the Bengaluru Open on Sunday.
The victory at the KSLTA courts will fetch the Australian 100 points and is set to carry him to a new career-high ranking (in the 110s).
But for a set and a little more, it was Duckworth who was in pole position to bag the $17,650 prize-money cheque.
The 31-year-old broke in the fourth game to lead 3-1 and maintained it to take the set. Where Duckworth played forcefully, Purcell was all steers, stabs and slices, even from the forehand wing.
When the 24-year-old lost his serve in the opening game of the second set, the crowd was seemingly in for a short evening. Purcell was also irritable, annoyed at people moving in the stands, at those who inadvertently shouted mid-point and even at a child that was crying.
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But these were the same fans who wanted him to stage a comeback and he obliged, sending them into raptures by breaking Duckworth to level at 3-3. He strung together four of the best points he had played – a stretched return, a dipping pass, a nonchalant slapped forehand and stunning on-the-run lift.
By the time the supporters settled back into their chairs, Purcell had held to 4-3 and was back pressuring Duckworth again. The latter erased six break-points in the eighth game, but the resistance ended in the 12th, with a double-fault at deuce his undoing.
The third set was all about Purcell’s resilience as he saved ten break-points spread across three games. In the tie-breaker, he lifted his level with a backhand down-the-line, a crisp forehand and an ace standing out.
Duckworth saved two match-points but Purcell drilled a fine serve down the T to end the contest in style.
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