Cameron Norrie plays down physical issues after five-set win at Australian Open

By Sports Desk January 18, 2024

Cameron Norrie was pleased to show his mental fortitude in a gritty comeback victory over Giulio Zeppieri in the second round of the Australian Open.

A strong wind and two rain breaks, coupled with an inspired opponent, made life extremely difficult for the 19th seed but he battled to a 3-6 6-7 (4) 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory to set up a clash with 11th seed Casper Ruud.

Norrie took a medical timeout early in the match for treatment to his right knee and was also shaking out the troublesome left wrist that prompted his withdrawal from a tournament in Auckland last week.

The British number one is confident the issues will not hinder his chances, and took heart from being able to play through the discomfort.

He said: “I feel great right now. I think it will be interesting to see how I pull up. The legs feel great. Hopefully the wrist is good, as well. I think it’s just a good lesson to learn that I can play with a few distractions going on.

“I don’t think the knee was anything. I think it just was a bit more precautionary. Actually it loosened up. I think it was probably just being very tense from the match.

“I think I have to make sure I warm up really well. Once the wrist is warm, then I’m not feeling it. So I think it’s just trying to stay warm and play and not think about it. I was able to prove that in the first couple matches.

“I think I was making it a bigger deal than it probably was in the beginning of the match. I was addressing it too much. Once I switched my focus and my energy towards how to win and how to play and how to win points, I think that was key. I think it was a good match mentally for me.”

It is the third time Norrie has recovered from two sets down to win after his Davis Cup debut against Roberto Bautista Agut in 2018 and a first-round win over Diego Schwartzman at the US Open four years ago.

For the best part of two sets Norrie was unable to cope with the power of Zeppieri, ranked 133 but in form after coming through qualifying, who bullied the British number one with his serve and forehand.

In cool, windy conditions, Norrie did not get into the contest until late in the second set, when he gave himself the chance to level proceedings only to lose the tie-break.

The third set was affected by two rain delays but Norrie had changed the momentum and he hung tough through a close deciding set before gaining the crucial break of serve at 5-5.

“He came out firing and basically took the racket out of my hand for the first hour and a half,” said Norrie.

“I was really flat. I was just kind of complaining to myself about little things. Wasn’t moving. Wasn’t playing clear. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

“I just managed to rise the energy a little bit. He dropped slightly. I think, when the first rain delay came, I just felt a little bit more calmer coming out to court. I got a chance to chat with my coach and change the game plan a little bit, to play a little bit more to the backhand side.

“But I was really pleased more mentally how I managed to switch it around. I was not feeling good on the court. It was not great, but I managed to finish the match. I managed my serve so well from the start of the third.”

Norrie finds himself in the now familiar position of being the only British singles player left, and he will try to claim a first win over Ruud to reach the fourth round for the first time.

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