Aussie out after Lleyton criticism
Max Purcell’s hopes of qualifying for next week’s Australian Open ended but his feud with Lleyton Hewitt is still simmering
Max Purcell has discussed with Tennis Australia officialdom his comments on Monday about Lleyton Hewitt not having “the balls” to tell him he missed out on an Australian Open wildcard.
The Sydney-based world No.174 caused a stir with his frank assessment of Hewitt after winning his qualifying opener.
There were extra TA staff listening to his press conference on Wednesday after Purcell lost his Australian Open second-round qualifying match, 7-6(7-2) 7-6(8), to 18th seed Jiri Lehecka.
He alleged he had to contact TA performance director Wally Masur late on Thursday night to find out his wildcard fate, in time to withdraw from Sydney and play Australian Open qualifying.
That is despite Purcell being part of Australia’s ATP Cup squad and spending all of last week with Hewitt, who was team captain.
Masur could not be contacted on Wednesday.
Asked if there was any fallout from his comments, Purcell said: “Yeah, but I don’t really want to talk about it.”
His Australian Open main draw involvement will now be limited to doubles with countryman Matt Ebden despite him having a strong case for a singles wildcard.
Those wildcards instead went to Alex Bolt, Aleks Vukic, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Chris O’Connell.
Purcell, who is ranked lower than that quartet, said earlier in the week he was “surprised” to be overlooked but also expected it after repeated disappointment across the years.
He beat top-20 stars Gael Monfils and Felix Auger-Aliassime in separate tournaments last year, on top of consistent Challenger success that earned him a US Open wildcard.
But that same form wasn’t rewarded at Purcell’s home grand slam.
“I’m not bothered about not getting a wildcard at all,” he said.
“I’m perfectly fine playing qualifying – I’m in qualifying the other three slams of the year. I want to beat these guys in qualifying and I want to earn my spot in the main draw.
“So I’ve got no hard feelings there. I got a match win; I lost my second match, but I’m feeling a lot better on the court right now, so all good.”
The moderator then requested no more than the two questions already asked on the topic.
Purcell was frustrated at the end of his defeat to Lehecka, whose second-serve ace to complete his passage to final-round qualifying was adjudged by Hawk-Eye Live as being 1mm in.
The 23-year-old grabbed his mobile phone from his tennis bag and took a photo of the ball mark but said later he supported technology over human linespeople.
Purcell had consecutive break points at five-all in the first set, then four set points in the second – including three in a row – but wasn’t able to capitalise as the Czech repeatedly came up big.
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