The top two seeds were in action down at Eastbourne but only one progressed to the quarter-final stage of the Viking International ATP 250 event on a day which saw plenty of upsets, especially in the women’s draw.
I’ve struggled to get into any singles events over the past nine months and primarily played doubles, so to get on a run here, on my favourite surface, is great. Max Purcell
Britain’s No.5, Liam Broady, the only home player to survive the opening round, put up a strong fight against World No.18 Alex de Minaur, the Australian second seed, before succumbing after one-hour and 41-minutes, 6-3 6-4.
Broady, the world No.144 who impressed with his first round victory over Frances Tiafoe, had chances to get ahead at several stages during the match, but the young Aussie showed great resilience to stave off seven of the eight break points he faced.
“It was a very tough match at a very hard level against a tricky opponent,” said de Minaur, a semi-finalist at Queen’s last week.
“It’s a great win and I’m very happy to come out here and play some great tennis especially in front of a crowd, which as a player, you truly miss.
“I’m always looking forward to the grass court swing – we missed out last year so it’s safe to say I’m here and I’m really enjoying myself on the grass.”
The top seed Gael Monfils however, lost out to another Aussie, ‘Lucky Loser’ Max Purcell ranked 283, following a dogged two-hour and 10-minute battle on the Devonshire Park lawns, for the biggest win of his career.
His 6-4 5-7 6-4 victory over the former French Eastbourne finalist (2017) rewards him with his first quarter-final place at an ATP event.
“It feels unbelievable,” said Purcell. “I’ve struggled to get into any singles events over the past nine months and primarily played doubles, so to get on a run here, on my favourite surface, is great. I thought I’d come out and have a go. When I missed the opportunity to close out the match at 5-4 in the second set, Gael showed what a Purcell good player he is.”
In the first round of the qualifying event, Purcell beat former World No. 5 and the 2018 Wimbledon finalist, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson and in the main draw, now faces the 2011 champion and fellow Lucky Loser from Italy, Andreas Seppi, who comfortably defeated Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-2 6-3 in 69 minutes.
Monfils nearly lost in straight sets but recovered himself when trailing 3-5 to put together seven straight games to lead 3-0 in the decider before Purcell retaliated by claiming five consecutive games to go ahead 5-3, and then holding to claim only his third tour level win of the season.
Another major casualty was the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich-Fokina who was forced to retire against Canada’s Vasek Pospisil after claiming the first set on a tie-break 7-1.
Elsewhere at the ATP 250 event, eighth-seeded Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik beat Egor Gerasimov of Belarus 6-2 6-2 in 66-minutes and will now play third seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy who in turn, beat Australia’s John Millman 6-4 6-2.
Also through to the last eight is Ilya Ivashka of Belarus who took out Alexei Popyrin of Australia 6-7 7-5 6-3.
In the doubles, there were plenty of positive results for the Brits as Joe Salisbury, Jamie Murray, Luke Bambridge and Lloyd Glasspool all came through their opening matches without dropping a set with Jonny O’Mara and Hugo Nys causing n upset when they defeated the Skupski brothers Ken and Neal in a deciding tie-break, 2-6 6-3 10-8.