AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – As one door closes in light of Andy Murray’s retirement announcement, Cameron Norrie shows that British Tennis is still moving forward as he advances to his first ATP Tour final.
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It looked to be a competitive start in the semi-final with Cameron Norrie playing his fourth at a tour level, for the first few exchanges, until Norrie looked to put pressure on Jan-Lennard Struff mid-way through the set with two chances to break the German, but not able to capitalise.
Struff had his own chance in the following game, and it was a close-run affair before Norrie finally broke for the first set. With the Brit’s backhand firing on all cylinders and Struff very much off the pace having been put through the ringer in both singles and playing doubles this week.
He fought back to take an early head on the second set, before getting pegged back, but broke Norrie once more to take the advantage. However, his schedule was beginning to take its toll as he saw five set points go begging as Norrie clung on to his service game, with Struff serving it out to level the match.
That seemed to be a step too far though for the German as Norrie very quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Although Struff got himself on the board and did not surrender any more break points, it was enough for Norrie to hang on for a spot in his first final, as the news filtered through about Andy Murray‘s retirement.
If this sport is all about confidence, then Norrie should have the edge as he goes into this first ATP final. He has met the controversial American Tennys Sandgren several times on the lower scale of the tour and coming into this final with a winning edge in their head-to-head should give him an extra boost.
Whichever way you look at it, it will be an emotional affair for the Brit, playing in New Zealand where he grew up. The home support has got him this far over the line, and the controversial views of Sandgren hardly makes him the most popular player to root for on the tour.
They met as recently as 2017, and while Sandgren had that run at the Australian Open last year, it is safe to say he has not exactly set the world alight since then. In contrast, Norrie’s star is on the rise, and the experience he gains can only help him improve further.
His strength is being a bigger-picture player and against a grinder like Sandgren, the more variety he can put into his play the better.
Prediction: Norrie in three sets.
Norrie and Sandgren are scheduled on Centre Court, not before 2:30pm (1:30am GMT)
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