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Cameron Norrie delighted as ‘brave’ approach earns him best ever grand slam win

The British number one defeated 11th seed Casper Ruud with an unusually attacking display.

Eleanor Crooks
Saturday 20 January 2024 12:13 GMT
Cameron Norrie reacts after beating Casper Ruud (Louise Delmotte/AP)
Cameron Norrie reacts after beating Casper Ruud (Louise Delmotte/AP) (AP)

Cameron Norrie’s positive intentions earned him his best ever grand slam victory and a place in the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time.

Norrie had never beaten a player ranked as high as world number 11 Casper Ruud at a major tournament and had lost all three previous matches against the Norwegian, who is a three-time slam finalist.

But, flying the flag alone for Britain in the singles once more, the 28-year-old played with purpose and courage to claim a 6-4 6-7 (7) 6-4 6-3 victory.

Normally known as a baseline grinder, Norrie came to the net 56 times during the contest and cracked 63 winners.

“It was so good,” he said. “I was really enjoying it from start to finish. I really felt a sense of calm throughout the whole match.

“I embraced the atmosphere. Everyone was enjoying themselves. They were behind me, as well, the crowd, so I think that definitely played a factor in the match.

“In terms of performances, it was up there with one of my best, I think, in a grand slam. Losing that second set, a few set points, and he served really well. I came out with a lot of energy. Then down a break in the third. Managed to stay really tough.

“I was committed to the game plan and I loved it. I played really well today. Good day.”

Norrie fell away from the tremendously high standard he had set since 2021 over the second half of last season and admitted he felt a little burnt out.

But a two-week break prior to the Davis Cup finals and an invigorating pre-season, hiking in the snowy French mountains near his base in Monte-Carlo and working with a new assistant coach in Stephen Huss, sent him into 2024 in high spirits.

Huss is a former Wimbledon doubles champion and Norrie said: “He had pretty good volleys himself. I think maybe just hanging out with him, it’s improved my volleys a little bit more, which is good.

“I really had to be brave tonight tactically against Casper. I had to really execute. It’s not easy to do that. I managed to do that.

“It depends who I play. I think the tactics is always interesting but it was really good to know I had that in there tonight.”

Victory over Alex De Minaur at the United Cup was a strong start to the season and Norrie has built on that here, battling through wrist pain in a gritty second-round comeback against Giulio Zeppieri.

He knew he needed to do something different against Ruud from their previous meetings and it quickly became clear he wanted to force the pace against one of the most solid baseliners.

He looked to come to the net as often as possible, attacking the vulnerable Ruud backhand, while throwing in drop shots and short angles to keep his opponent guessing.

He saved five break points to take the opening set after an early break and should have taken the second despite Ruud being on top for nearly all of it.

Norrie opened up a 6-4 lead in the tie-break but then put a simple backhand down the line just into the tramlines, allowing Ruud the chance to fight back.

When the 11th seed broke to lead 3-2 in the third set, it appeared he had control of the match, but Norrie redoubled his attacking efforts, hit straight back and then broke again to clinch it.

Ruud made a fight of it in the latter stages of the fourth set after a lacklustre start but Norrie held firm.

Ruud admitted Norrie had taken him by surprise, saying: “He changed a few things since the three previous matches that we played and he played better today.

“I didn’t go off the court thinking I played bad, I just was a little hesitant and didn’t hit with good enough depth but he took advantage and came in and rushed me.”

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