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Cameron Norrie books Casper Ruud clash after stunning five-set Australian Open comeback

The British number one trailed qualifier Giulio Zeppieri by two sets to love before battling to a 3-6 6-7 (4) 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory

Eleanor Crooks
Thursday 18 January 2024 07:59 GMT
Norrie on first round win at "special" Wimbledon

Cameron Norrie staged a superb comeback in difficult conditions to beat 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.

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.

Zeppieri is ranked down at 133 but was in form after coming through qualifying and crunched 63 winners in total, but Norrie did not panic and will be hugely satisfied with the result after a testing period over the second half of last season.

For the best part of two sets, Norrie was unable to cope with the power of Zeppieri, who bullied the British number one with his serve and forehand.

Both men were finding the wind tricky to cope with but Norrie began to get a foothold in the match at 5-4 in the second set, when he broke the Italian’s serve for the first time.

He was two points away from levelling the match with Zeppieri serving at 5-6 but the Italian fought back from 0-30 to force a tie-break, where he took an early lead that he did not relinquish.

Norrie, normally a cool customer, cut a deeply frustrated figure, while he was shaking out his troublesome left wrist having previously taken a medical timeout for treatment to his right knee.

Cameron Norrie survived a battle with Giulio Zeppieri (AP)

The 28-year-old came out for the third set with purpose, though, and grabbed an immediate break of the Zeppieri serve before blustery showers began to blow through Melbourne Park, twice delaying the match.

In between, Norrie clinched the third set, and an immediate break at the start of the fourth set him on the way to levelling the match.

Norrie had experience on his side, with Zeppieri playing in only his third grand slam, but the 22-year-old, who had taken a lengthy medical timeout in the fourth set, began to offer more threat again in the decider.

Norrie came through a series of tight service games before a netted Zeppieri forehand gave him the break for 5-4 and the chance to serve out the contest, which he took before leaping across the court in celebration.

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