Cameron Norrie defeated compatriot Andy Murray in a battle of the Brits to advance to the third round in Cincinnati. The ninth seed had never won a match at the Western & Southern Open before this week, and now finds himself in the third round after a 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over the former British No 1.
Murray and Norrie were facing off for just the second time, with the former world No 1 winning their only previous clash at the 2019 China Open. But the 26-year-old has become a different player since, reaching the world’s top 10, winning a Masters title and reaching the Wimbledon semi-final all in the last ten months.
It was the top-ranked Brit who started off strong in the second round, immediately breaking the Murray serve but the two-time former champion in Cincinnati showed he was still the master as he broke straight back. The ninth seed saved two break points in his next service game but couldn’t keep the 35-year-old held off for long, getting broken at 3-4 to give Murray the chance to serve for the opener.
He closed it out 6-3, having got the better of the world No 11 on both the serve and return points in the 45-minute set. Norrie was then forced to save another break point to get on the board at the start of the second, while Murray breezed through with a love-hold. It was the British No 1’s turn for a love-hold as he started to settle into the match, putting pressure on the Murray serve in the next game as he managed to get to deuce but was unable to create a break point for the first time since the opening game of the match.
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Norrie finally managed to set up two break point chances in Murray’s next service game at 2-3, with the world No 47 fending off the higher-ranked Brit in an eight-minute game to stay level in the second. The ninth seed kept on pressing and set up two more break points at 4-3 as he started finding his forehand, and finally took one to serve for a deciding set. Hoping to keep himself alive in set two, the former champion set up triple break point on his compatriot’s serve but Norrie reeled off five straight points to take the match into a third and final set.
He started the deciding set with a 0-30 lead on the Murray serve but the former world No 1 dug deep to hold. It was a close final set until the 35-year-old managed to carve out a break point at 3-2 but his string broke during the rally as he could be seen smiling in disbelief. Two more opportunities came and went as the British No 1 held on in the longest game of the match so far.
Suddenly from 40-0 up at 3-4, Norrie found himself at deuce but managed to hold on to stay level with his countryman in the decisive set. The cramps started to set in for Murray for a second-consecutive match as he faced three break points at 4-4 and gave the break away with a double fault, receiving treatment at the changeover.
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But the physio didn’t appear to help as the British No 1 managed to serve out a 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Murray after two hours and 37 minutes.
Norrie will now face either fifth seed Casper Ruud or American college tennis player Ben Shelton, who earned his maiden Masters 1000 victory in the first round. The world No 11 has faced the French Open finalist three times and lost on all three occasions, only winning one set across their encounters.
Their first meeting came in San Diego last year where Ruud won 6-0 6-2 before Norrie got the chance to face the 23-year-old at last year’s ATP Finals as an alternate, losing 1-6 6-3 6-4. He also lost their only meeting this season in Miami, where the eventual-finalist came through 6-3 6-4. But Norrie will be feeling good after reaching the third round, having never won a match in Cincinnati before this week.