Cameron Norrie convinced he can compete with best after Australian Open run

By Sports Desk January 22, 2024

Cameron Norrie leaves Australia convinced he can compete with the world’s best after suffering an agonising five-set loss to Alexander Zverev.

The British number one broke new ground with a brilliant attacking display to defeat Casper Ruud in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday and again showed the new dimensions he has added to his game to push the sixth seed all the way to a deciding tie-break.

Norrie, who had not won a set in their four previous meetings, twice came from behind to force a decider but it is Zverev who moves through to the quarter-finals after a 7-5 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6 (10/3) victory.

Norrie, the final British singles player standing, reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2022 but the draw opened up for him and he did not have to beat a top-30 player, which has certainly not been the same here.

The 28-year-old is still yet to beat a top-10 opponent at a grand slam, but he said: “I think Sascha (Zverev) is probably one of the best players in the world at the moment, and playing close with him and somewhat deep in a grand slam, losing in five sets, a few points in it, I think it’s exactly where I want to be.

“I can take a lot of confidence from that. It’s disappointing but I think it’s nice to know I’m just looking for ways to evolve my game. I was toe-to-toe with him. I got absolutely chopped by him in Vienna at the end of last year, and I managed to take a completely different approach.

“I think there’s still lots to come. I’m still 28 years old. I think you look at the longevity of the other players playing now, I think they’re getting better. I just want to keep learning and keep pushing and keep improving.

“I learned a lot last year and the years before. I know I’ve got the top-10 level in me. I want to just keep taking steps towards that. I’m having fun playing.”

The match was briefly interrupted in the third set by a protester, who threw ‘Free Palestine’ flyers onto the court from the front row of Margaret Court Arena before being forcibly escorted away by two spectators.

Zverev criticised the lack of a response from security personnel, saying: “They wouldn’t let me into the gym because I forgot my credential in the locker room.

“What are you doing? You’re protecting players from players. Something like this happens and it takes three, four minutes for somebody to show up. I think that should be the opposite. I think, when something like this happens, it shouldn’t be another fan dragging the other person out.”

Organisers defended the handling of the incident, saying: “As soon as the behaviour was identified and reported, venue security was deployed to detain the individual.

“The individual was subsequently evicted from the event. Two patrons were active in notifying security and stopping the protester, and we appreciate their actions.”

A coordinated protest also took placed on Kia Arena, with police saying two women were evicted from the tournament.

Norrie’s tactics against Ruud came as no surprise to Zverev, who spent the off-season practising with the British number one in Monte-Carlo.

A serve-dominated first set went the way of Zverev, who then broke to lead 3-2 in the second, but Norrie played what must be one of the best returning games of his career to hit straight back and took the set with a run of four games in a row, saving four break points.

The 19th seed was unable to come to the net as much as he did against Ruud because of the quality of Zverev’s passing shots but he kept the German on his toes with drop shots and short, angled slices.

Zverev responded to take the third set but Norrie upped the aggression again in the fourth, and, after an early exchange of breaks in the decider, he withstood pressure to keep his nose in front.

When Zverev opened the 10th game with a nervy double fault, Norrie must have scented blood, but the sixth seed did not allow him any more looks and the big disappointment for the British number one was that he could not maintain the same level in the tie-break.

Norrie blamed the balls, saying: “The balls were huge in the end, and he was able to get a better hit on the ball. I mis-executed a couple of balls, and he served really well. Nothing in it, and credit to him. I think he played a more complete match than me.”

Zverev was impressed by the level of his opponent, adding: “If he can play this way then for sure it’s going to make him improve.

“Incredibly aggressive, I thought. Taking the ball very early. He usually does that with his backhand, not so much with his forehand. For the first time since I’ve been playing him, I thought his forehand was better than his backhand.”

Related items

  • Raducanu stunned by qualifier Carle in Madrid Raducanu stunned by qualifier Carle in Madrid

    Maria Lourdes Carle made a splash at the Madrid Open on Wednesday, as the qualifier sent Emma Raducanu packing.

    World number 82 Carle stepped into the void to fill in for Karolina Pliskova, who withdrew prior to the end of the qualifying rounds, to face 2021 US Open champion Raducanu.

    It is just the second time Carle has reached the main draw of a WTA 1000 event, and she ensured it would be a memorable campaign after a 6-2 6-2 victory over Raducanu, who is now ranked at world number 221, though has enjoyed something of a return to form this season.

    Raducanu reached the quarter-finals of the Stuttgart Grand Prix last week, going down to world number one Iga Swiatek, but has recently enjoyed victories over the likes of Angelique Kerber and Caroline Garcia.

    Data Debrief

    Carle is the first player from Argentina to defeat a former women's singles grand slam Champion since Nadia Podoroska overcame Serena Williams in Rome in 2021. 

    The 24-year-old is making just her sixth WTA main draw appearance, with her first WTA 1000 appearance having come in Miami in March.

  • 'I will play Roland Garros if I feel competitive' – Nadal uncertain on French Open participation 'I will play Roland Garros if I feel competitive' – Nadal uncertain on French Open participation

    Rafael Nadal is unsure as to whether he will be fit enough to feature at the French Open.

    Nadal is embarking on a swansong season, having indicated he will retire after the 2024 campaign.

    The 37-year-old is set to make his farewell appearance at the Madrid Open this week, with his campaign starting against American teenager Darwin Blanch on Thursday.

    Nadal, now ranked 512 in the world, has played just five Tour-level matches this year, as he makes his comeback from yet another injury lay-off.

    And the 14-time Roland Garros champion acknowledged on Wednesday that he would be unlikely to play at the French Open should it be taking place this week.

    "If I was in Paris today, I wouldn't go out to play," he said.

    "I don't think I'll be able to play at 100 per cent, but it's important to be able to play for the last time in Madrid.

    "It means a lot to me to play on this court where I've had some great moments."

    Thankfully for Nadal, the French Open does not take place until late May, giving him time to get fit.

    "If I arrive in Paris the way I feel today, I will not play," he said.

    "I will play Roland Garros if I feel competitive. If I can play, I play. If I can't play, I can't. It won't be the end of the world or the end of my career. I still have goals after Roland Garros, like the Olympics.

    "Few weeks [ago], I didn't know if I would be able to play again on the professional tour. It's not perfect but at least I am playing and I can enjoy again, especially in the tournaments that are so emotional for me.

    "I'm able to enjoy the fun that I can say, probably, goodbye on court. Without trying to confuse anyone, I don't know what's going to happen in the next three weeks.

    "I'm going to do the things I have to do to be able to play in Paris. And if I can, I can and if I can't, I can't. I'm going to Paris if I feel like I'm good enough. I'm going to Paris if I feel capable enough to compete."

    Nadal played three times in Brisbane in January, losing to qualifier Jordan Thompson and subsequently missing the Australian Open.

    He featured twice in Barcelona earlier in April, losing to Alex De Minaur in the round of 32.

    Nadal has won five titles in Madrid, though, and the tournament holds a special place for him, as he underlined his determination to compete.

    He added: "Some moments I find myself enjoying being on court, playing against the best players again and I feel myself, more or less competitive, and other moments I feel limitations and it’s difficult.

    "The goal is to be on court, enjoy it as long as possible. I mean, that's the thing, enjoy the fact that I will be able to compete one more time on the professional tour and here at home in Madrid, a place that gives me everything in terms of support.

    "I am here giving myself a chance. If at some moment my situation improves, if I am able to find better feelings in my body, I need to be ready."

  • Osaka storms to victory in Madrid opener to end long wait for win on clay Osaka storms to victory in Madrid opener to end long wait for win on clay

    Naomi Osaka comprehensively dispatched Greet Minnen on Tuesday to make a winning start to her Madrid Open campaign and earn a first win on clay for two years.

    Japanese star Osaka triumphed 6-4 6-1 in only 79 minutes, swiftly booking a second-round clash against Liudmila Samsonova.

    Osaka reached the last 32 at the WTA 1000 events on the hard courts of Indian Wells and Miami but had lost to Martina Trevisan at the first hurdle in the Open de Rouen on clay at WTA 250 level last week.

    This was therefore a welcome return to form against Belgian qualifier Minnen and represented her first triumph on the surface since beating Anastasia Potapova at this tournament in 2022.

    After an even start to the contest, the first set was level at 4-4. But Osaka then assumed full control, winning eight of nine games to race to victory.

    Data Debrief: Osaka dominates on serve

    Osaka was not broken at all in the match and allowed Minnen only one break-point opportunity across the whole contest.

    She fired down eight aces to only three double faults, and won 13 of her 16 first-serve points in the second set.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.