Cameron Norrie in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open, Melbourne
Cameron Norrie in the second round of the 2023 Australian Open, Melbourne | (Photo by MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images)

Tennis | Australian Open 2023 | Norrie battles past Lestienne in late night thriller, faces Lehecka next

By Tony Fairbairn

  • Cameron Norrie [11] def Constant Lestienne 6-3 3-6 7-6(2) 6-3
  • Norrie v Jiri Lehecka| H2H: Norrie leads 2-0
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Cameron Norrie battled past Constant Lestienne in a late night thriller to set up a third round meeting with Jiri Lehecka at the Australian Open.

 

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Cameron Norrie [11] def Constant Lestienne 6-3 3-6 7-6(2) 6-3

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Cameron Norrie battled his way into the third round of the Australian Open after a four set win over Constant Lestienne that ended 1:30am local time. The match originally scheduled for KIA Arena, was played on Court 13 due to rain earlier in the day but that didn’t effect the 11th seed as he started the better player.

The Brit’s consistency from the baseline mixed with occasional aggression allowed him to dictate the points with Lestienne doing very little to counter-attack Norrie’s quality. However the Brit had to be aware of Lestienne’s raw power with that being on show in the sixth game after Norrie failed to convert opportunities in the first and fifth games. Norrie was forced to save three break points, which he did before breaking in the next game with some aggressive returning.

There could be many comparisons with Benoit Paire made to Lestienne’s game and at the end of the opening set, we got to see the negative parts associated to Paire’s game. This is as the Frenchman was very uninterested in the end of the set, attempting underarm serves and pointless tweeners. Norrie stayed focused on the task at hand and broke to claim the opening set 6-3 and take a one set lead.

The second set was when we saw the streaky side to Lestienne’s game that could be compared with Paire as he found his range, powering past Norrie’s defence. After failing to convert break point in the opening game, the Frenchman was rewarded with his resilient play as he broke for a 2-1 lead. However Norrie responded strongly to Lestienne’s increase in level as he targeted the Frenchman’s slice to get the break back for 2-2.

Both players were working their way through the set with good tactical play but surprisingly it was Lestienne who was slightly more patient and went through the gears towards the end of the set. The Frenchman took his game to the next level as he powered to two breaks of serve at the end of the set to level the match up at one set all against a baffled and frustrated Norrie.

Norrie’s frustration would continue at the beginning of the third set as Lestienne’s continued to hammer down the forehands to take an early break for a 2-0 lead. The Brit did not know how to deal with the Frenchman’s streaky tennis as he now head to play his way back into form and attempt to neutralise the points. After taking a 5-2 lead with more flawless tennis, Lestienne struggled to keep up his high level especially on serve and Norrie took advantage with some brutal all-court tennis.

The Brit broke back and had momentum on his side as he hammered down the forehands to force a second set tiebreak. Norrie had too much power and variety for the erratic Frenchman as he dominated the tiebreak 7-2 which resulted in a two sets to one lead.

In the fourth set there were more brutal rallies as the two players went blow for blow in the early stages of the set. Norrie was successfully neutralising the rallies while Lestienne made it awkward for the Brit to break on return.

After saving multiple break points in the sixth game, Lestienne couldn’t neutralise Norrie’s power for long as missed forehand volley saw the Brit break for a 5-3 lead. The 11th seed served out the match to survive a four set battle and at 1:30am local time, booked his place in the third round of the Australian Open.

 

Cameron Norrie [11] v Jiri Lehecka  H2H & Match Fundamentals

Cameron Norrie [11] v Constant Lestienne H2H: Norrie leads 2-0
Australian Open 2023 Melbourne, Australia
Hard (O) Prize Money: $227,925
Fourth on KIA Arena (Not before 04:30 GMT) Discovery+ Add-on via Amazon Prime      Sign up for 30 day free trial of Prime Video and a 7 day free trial of Discovery+ Player

Norrie will now face talented Czech Republican Jiri Lehecka for a place in the second week of the Australian Open for the first time.

 

Tale of the Tape – Key Stats (Last 12 months)

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H2H: Cameron Norrie (WR 12) Jiri Lehecka (WR 71)
Tournament Previous Best R3 (2021) R1 (2022)
1st Serve % 66.1 64.3
Service Games Won % 81.5 77.8
Break Points Saved % 62.7 62.5
2nd Serve Return Points Won % 53.2 47.5
Break Points Converted % 44 42.6

Norrie will need to be aware of Lehecka’s clinical returning on break points as the Brit looks to be more consistent on serve.

 

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Playing Styles and Prediction

Lehecka has started the season in fine form having beaten Alexander Zverev at the United Cup and then followed that up with an impressive win over Borna Coric in the opening round of the Australian Open. The Czech Republican has an impressive all-court game and is very aggressive especially on the forehand which can be a dangerous threat for any player to play against.

Norrie will look to use the angles to make Lehecka run around the court with the Brit using a wide range of depths and pace to disrupt Lehecka’s rhythm. Lehecka will use his serve and forehand to dictate the tempo of the match and will look to use his power to blast his way past Norrie’s defence. If the Brit can keep a solid base level throughout the match then he should win this match but this should be a tough match and one that could go all the way if Norrie isn’t careful.

Prediction: Norrie in four sets.

 

 

How to Watch/Follow Australian Open 2023

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