Max Purcell would like it to be known he’s a singles player, not a doubles specialist — and the Australian reckons he’s gone a long way to proving it with by far the biggest win of his career, over French star Gael Monfils in Eastbourne.
- Max Purcell says he has always wanted to be a singles player and hates being considered a doubles specialist
- Purcell says he was left out of the Olympic team because ” a lot of guys at the top are soft and can’t handle a joke”
- He beat world number 16 Gael Monfils to reach the quarter-finals of the Eastbourne Invitational singles
The 23-year-old, who reached last year’s Australian Open final with Luke Saville, reckons he can’t stand doubles, even though he’s had to slog around Europe playing it while enviously watching his mates in the singles.
Yet given a rare crack at singles action in the final pre-Wimbledon event, Purcell, a lowly No.283 in the world, reminded everyone of his ability by knocking out the ever-entertaining world No.16 and top seed Monfils 6-4 5-7 6-4 on Wednesday.
“I hate it,” Purcell said about his doubles specialist tag.
“You don’t pick up a tennis racquet as a little kid to want to be a doubles player. You want to be a singles player!”
Days like this reminded him why — and he’s had a few this past week.
First, he beat ex-Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson in the qualifiers, before getting eliminated in the next round, only to be reinstated as a ‘lucky loser’ after withdrawals from the main field.
He then edged a three-setter over fellow Aussie James Duckworth, ranked 195 places higher than him, before beating flamboyant Monfils, who’s so popular in Britain that he even had Aussies in the Eastbourne crowd cheering for him.
“I heard that and thought, ‘what’s this?’,” smiled Purcell. “They really do love him over here!”
Calling it his best-ever win, Purcell, who wasn’t ranked high enough to have a crack at Wimbledon singles qualifying but will be No.16 seed in the doubles with Saville, explained: “I’m always a singles player first.
“I’m hating actually playing doubles, being at these tournaments and seeing all these guys playing singles, and you just want to be doing what they’re doing.”
His only real doubles interest, apart from making a living to fund his singles career, was to make the Olympic Games, but he was overlooked — something that didn’t surprise him, as he thinks the Australian tennis authorities really don’t care for him.
“Yeah, everyone dreams of being an Olympic athlete, but there’s not much you can do when your Federation’s not a huge fan of you.
“There’s a lot of history there. It’s kind of a known fact within the Australian tennis community that the higher up guys are not a fan of me.
“I kind of speak my mind my mind and a lot of the guys at the top are pretty soft and can’t handle a joke … it is what it is.”
So what did he think they would make of his remarkable win?
“Don’t you worry, I haven’t had a single message yet saying ‘well done’,” he smiled.