Max saves two c’ship points, wins Chennai Open singles crown
CHENNAI: Nicolas Moreno De Alboran urged the 500-odd crowd at the SDAT Tennis Stadium to raise its decibel level, when he was one step away from glory. The shutterbugs rushed from their vantage point to the photographers’ area on Centre Court to capture ‘the moment’ from close quarters. But, Max Purcell had other ideas.
The Australian, fighting for survival after losing a hard-fought first set, saved two championship points on serve in the 10th game of the second set. Having levelled the match score at 1-1 after pipping America’s Moreno in the second set tie-break, Max completed the comeback in style by pocketing the third set.
The 24-year-old Max snatched a 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4 victory from the jaws of defeat in the final that was contested for three hours and seven minutes, deservedly emerging the Chennai Open Challenger singles champion on Sunday. “I am really happy with it (the mentality to come back),” the World No.203 Max told reporters after going the distance.
“After my first training session on Wednesday (February 8), I said to myself ‘I am going to win this tournament’. I was just not letting anything get to me. I did not want to finish without winning the tournament,” added Max.
His breathtaking triumph was extra special, given the fact that Max suffered from a bout of food poisoning ahead of the challenger event. “I got here (Chennai) on Wednesday afternoon (February 8). On Thursday night, I started feeling really nauseous. The entire Thursday night, I was throwing up. I kept getting up, sweating and throwing up.
“On Friday, I did not leave the bed. On Saturday, I did not train. On Sunday and Monday, I hit for about 20 minutes [each day]. I played [my first match] on Tuesday. The preparation was not great. In saying that, I cannot complain because I won the tournament,” said Max.
Match worthy of a final
Both players held their serves until Moreno drew first blood in the 12th game of the opening set. While the Australian saved a set point, the American, ranked 219 in the world, converted the second break-point opportunity to nose 1-0 ahead in the match.
After saving three break points in the fifth game and breaking Max’s serve in the sixth, Moreno raced to a 4-2 lead in the second set. Max stayed alive by breaking Moreno in the ninth game, only for the latter to put himself on the brink of victory in the tenth. But, the Australian did not give up, saving two break and championship points to level the set score at 5-5.
Max managed to stretch the set to a tie-break, which he won with ease after getting off the blocks quickly. In the decider, Max bagged an early break, but Moreno broke back to equalise at 2-2. After the finalists held their serves till the ninth game, Max notched up the victory by crucially breaking Moreno in the 10th game. The Australian sealed the win when a backhand shot from the American found the net.
RESULT: Singles: Final: Max Purcell bt Nicolas Moreno De Alboran 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4
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