Cameron Norrie produced his best performance in the last 12 months as he defeated Casper Ruud in four sets to reach the last 16 at the Australian Open for the first time in his career. It was an aggressive start to the match for both players but it was Norrie who was the more proactive player as he broke in the third game for a 2-1 lead. The Brit used a mixture of power and variety as he threw Ruud off his game as Norrie took a 3-1 lead.
As the set went on the Norwegian found confidence and consistency on his forehand as he looked to counter-attack Norrie’s aggression. The 11th seed had won their previous three meetings and knew he had to be patient and wait for the Norrie errors to come. In the sixth game, those errors arrived as Norrie played a loose few points before the Brit saved four break points to hold for 3-3. That service hold was crucial as Norrie fended off late pressure from Ruud in the tenth game to seal the opening set with a jumping backhand cross-court winner.
The second set saw Ruud continue to build momentum on return as he produced some deep returns which saw Norrie commit unforced errors. However Ruud failed to convert momentum into any breaks of serve as frustration grew for the Norwegian. Clutch serving from Norrie saw him save three break points in the fourth game as the Brit remained resolute in his gameplan.
Later on in the set it was Ruud’s turn to come under pressure on serve as Norrie increased the intensity on return. However the Norwegian fended off the pressure to increase the scoreboard pressure on Norrie. The 19th seed responded with an ace as he ensured that the second set would be decided in a tiebreak.
The first few points went with the returner with Norrie being the first player to win a point on serve as he took a 4-2 lead. An aggressive Norrie would convert that lead into two set points but the Brit felt the pressure of the occasion as a loose backhand went wide with Ruud coming back to level the tiebreak at 6-6. The missed backhand would prove crucial as Ruud would take the tiebreak 9-7, sealing the set with an ace, as he levelled the match at one set all.
Despite the agonising circumstances that lead to losing the second set, Norrie produced a strong response in the third set as he comfortably held his opening two service games. During the match, Ruud was patient and consistent on return and the third set was the same as Norrie failed to hold serve in the third game as the Norwegian broke for a 3-2 lead.
Normally Norrie would fade away but this was a different version of the Brit as he increased the aggression and attacking intent of his returning. A few aggressive backhands saw Norrie set up a clinical volley as he broke back in the next game for 3-3.
The tide of the match had turned as Norrie was confident and assured in his play as he put pressure on Ruud to continue to hold serve. Eventually it was Ruud who faltered as Norrie once again was aggressive on return to break in the tenth game, sealing a two set to one lead.
Two comfortable service holds gave Norrie the platform to attack Ruud’s serve in the fourth set and the Brit obliged with ease to take a 3-1 lead. There were nervy moments through out the set especially in the seventh game as the Brit saved break point with more aggressive backhands from the baseline.
One last service hold from Ruud put pressure on Norrie to serve out the match. There was no nerves from Norrie though as the 19th seed executed a smash winner to seal victory and a place in the second week of the Australian Open for the first time in his career.
Cameron Norrie  v Alexander Zverev  | H2H & Match Fundamentals
Cameron Norrie  v Alexander Zverev 
H2H: Zverev leads 4-0
Australian Open 2024
Prize Money: $375,000
Third on Margaret Court Arena (Not before 05:00 GMT)
Zverev has been more consistent on serve but Norrie’s aggression and efficiency on return has been far superior this season.
Playing Styles and Prediction
After suffering a nasty ankle injury in 2022, Zverev rejuvenated his form last season as he managed to enter the world’s top ten. Now the German will look to continue his confidence at Grand Slams as he will look to prove why he should be considered a Grand Slam contender.
Norrie will aim to continue his returning aggression as he will look to use power and depth to force Zverev behind the baseline. Meanwhile Zverev will look to be consistent on serve as well as using his forehand to make Norrie run around the court. This will be a tough match for the Brit but if he can maintain his level of aggression on return then he has every chance of making his first Australian Open quarter-final.
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