Australian Max Purcell went on a three-week trip to India in February with two things in mind: winning ATP Challenger Tour matches and spending less time on his cell phone.

The 24-year-old then went on a 15-match winning streak, triumphing at the Chennai, Bengaluru, and Pune Challengers. While he was enjoying a hot streak that helped him make his Top 100 debut, his phone was left cold in the hotel room.

“I made the choice to stop with distractions off court,” Purcell told “Especially through India, I wanted to be off my phone as much as I could. I wanted to make sure I was getting as much quiet time as I could and just make sure going into my matches that I didn’t bring anything else on the court.


“No extra emotions or anything like that. I just wanted to be as calm as I could and focus on my mission. That seemed to work out really well.”

Purcell came to that decision on his own this offseason, following a gruelling schedule in 2022 that saw him constantly managing singles and doubles.

“Even when I was trying to get downtime last year, I would still find myself talking with friends over FaceTime, it would just eat into my day and eat into my energy,” Purcell said. “If I was going to go out to dinner with more tennis guys, again it was the same thing. I was trying to limit that as much as I could in India. I was like, ‘I’m going to get off my phone, stay in, and relax.’”

Purcell is the 14th player to claim three consecutive Challenger titles and the first since Ben Shelton last season (Charlottesville, Knoxville, Champaign). The Sydney native is the only Australian to achieve the feat in Challenger history (since 1978).

Max Purcell is crowned champion at the 2023 Bengaluru Challenger. Credit: Bengaluru Open

The swing didn’t start so positively, though. Purcell suffered food poisoning leading into the Chennai Challenger and was confined to his hotel room for several days.

“The first one was a pretty big surprise because I was pretty underdone coming into the tournament. The three days leading into the event, I didn’t practise because of food poisoning,” Purcell said. “I landed Wednesday afternoon and then by Thursday evening I was projectile vomiting. I didn’t expect too much. And by the end of the week I was so tired. I was stoked to have won that.

“The second week [Bengaluru], I slipped through a couple of three setters early. And from then on, I was like, ‘I kind of feel unbeatable at this point!’ The last week [Pune], I lost the first set [in the first round], just felt like I was getting used to the conditions and [Mukund Sasikumar] played pretty well that set. Finished that set, then I felt like I cruised on for the rest of the tournament. So I just got better and better as the tournaments went on, more confident.”

Purcell was No. 203 just three weeks ago, but after his Indian hat-trick he is now at a career-high 95 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Cracking the Top 100 is something that the Aussie said he was hoping to achieve before turning 25. The five-time Challenger Tour titlist celebrates his 25th birthday next month.

Purcell’s slice-and-dice brand of tennis isn’t something you see on Tour every day. In 2022, Andy Murray praised the Aussie after rallying from a set down to defeat him in Newport. Post match, Murray stated that Purcell carries, “A very different game style, using a lot of slice off of both sides”.


Purcell takes pride in his style of play.

“I don’t see anyone hitting slice forehands like I do,” Purcell said. “I don’t think there’s a single person, so I think that’s pretty unique. I grew up in Sydney, we had a lot of synthetic grass courts so I used my slice a lot when I was younger. I knew I could always hit forehand slices but I was always told by coaches that it wasn’t effective.

“Last year, I was coachless for a while so I was like ‘Screw it’, I don’t care what coaches think, I’m just going to start doing it. Been going with that and using it for a good changeup.

“I played Andy in Newport, I don’t know how he was feeling but physically I wasn’t playing great after flying straight from Wimbledon. The guy has been No. 1 in the world and I had him 6-1, 2-0 and I don’t think I hit a topspin forehand. I think that shows it can be somewhat effective. I just have a little bit of extra feel out there. I don’t think you see many singles guys volleying as well as I do, from all the doubles.”

The week prior to Newport, Purcell was coming off a dream run at Wimbledon, where he partnered countryman Matthew Ebden to win their maiden Grand Slam doubles title. Five of their six matches went the distance, including their final victory against Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.

“Five matches were five sets. Eight match points saved,” Purcell said. “Three match points saved in a row in the first round. I was looking at my girlfriend and another friend when we were down those three match points and I just remember looking at them like, ‘Well this is going to be a short trip.’

“Every match we were losing and I was like, ‘Alright we’re going to get out of here tonight.’ But it just turned into us winning the tournament. It was the most weird ending. Weird run the whole way. We never looked like winning it until the super tie-break in the final. It was nuts. It just shows that tennis is such a stupid sport with results with how anything can happen all the time.”

Max Purcell and Matthew Ebden celebrate winning the 2022 Wimbledon doubles title. Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Despite his great doubles success, Purcell said his focus is solely on playing singles but still hopes to play both at the Grand Slams.

“Last year I burned myself out,” Purcell said. “I can’t play two separate schedules. I did seven-and-a-half months at a tournament every single week last year. I still feel like I’m getting over that mentally and physically.”

Now enjoying precious downtime at home, Purcell will next be in action at the Las Franquesas Del Valles and Lille Challengers.