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Purcell, Vukic power on to last 16 in North Carolina


Surprise new Australian No.3 Max Purcell has continued his red-hot run to storm into the last 16 at the US Open lead-in event in North Carolina.

Purcell powered past American qualifying lucky loser Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4 6-1 to book a third-round date at the Winston-Salem Open with Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor.

The 25-year-old Sydneysider crunched down eight aces and broke Kuznetsov's serve four times to sail through in one hour neat on Wednesday (AEST).

After upsetting world No.7 Casper Ruud and three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka in last week's run to the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Open before falling in three sets to the top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz, Purcell soared to a career-high 47th in the rankings.

He is now guaranteed another rise on Monday when the season's final grand slam gets under way in New York.

Purcell will arrive at Flushing Meadows in the form of his life having won nine of his past 11 matches - beaten only by Alcaraz and in Toronto to triple grand slam champion and former world No.1 Andy Murray.

Fellow in-form Australian Aleksandar Vukic joined Purcell in the third round with a 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 win over Frenchman Luca van Assche.

Vukic, who also reached a career-high ranking of No.48 last week, will play Argentine Sebastian Baez for a place in the quarter-finals.

US Open wildcard Rinky Hijikata was unable to complete a daily clean sweep for Australia, falling 6-2 7-6 (7-2) to tournament top seed and world No.29 Borna Coric from Croatia.