Former college star Cameron Norrie has played the role of professor this week at the Western & Southern Open, schooling three 19-year-olds on his way to the Cincinnati semi-finals.
And in a thrilling quarter-final showdown, the British contender gave third seed Carlos Alcaraz a lesson in staying the course as he answered the Spaniard’s comeback bid with a turnaround of his own in a 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-4 victory.
Norrie, 26, who also beat teens Holger Rune and Ben Shelton this week, surrendered a 4-1 lead in the second set before battling back from 1-3 down in the decider with an unflinching performance in the face of the Spaniard’s charge.
While Alcaraz was below his best for stretches of the evening, he produced one of the points of the season at 5/4 in the second-set tie-break. The electric exchange sparked the 19-year-old into life, but Norrie never folded even as he was 10 points from defeat.
As he showed in his earlier three-setter against Andy Murray, one of the fundamental qualities that has driven Norrie towards the top of his game is his composure.
In that match against his compatriot, Norrie’s head did not drop, his shoulders did not slouch and he emerged from his bathroom break after the first set still positive. After three tough, physical sets against the former world No 1, Norrie progressed.
While the Briton did not play the flashy brand of tennis that Alcaraz used to beat him in each of their previous three meetings, he frustrated his opponent with his steady game on centre court, patiently grinding from the baseline and capitalising on his hard-earned opportunities to step into the court.
Norrie was on the ropes at the start of the third set, with Alcaraz having whipped the crowd into the frenzy in forcing a decider. After saving a break point in his opening service game, he fell behind 1-3 as Alcaraz grew in confidence.
But Norrie responded instantly and did not face a break point again, earning the decisive break in the set’s ninth game. The Briton has moved up two spots to No 9 in the Pepperstone ATP live rankings this week, and risen three spots to 11th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
With the loss, Alcaraz drops to 17-4 at the ATP Masters 1000s this season and loses the chance to claim his third title at that level on the year — a feat that would have lifted him to a new career-high of World No 2.
Instead, he remains at No 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, leaving an opening for Stefanos Tsitsipas to pass him with the Cincinnati title. However, Alcaraz will have a chance to rise to World No 1 at the US Open starting on August 29.
August 20, 2022 at 10:47AM ATP Staff