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 | Madrid Open 2023 | Norrie gains confidence with win over Watanuki, faces Zhang next

By Tony Fairbairn

  • Cameron Norrie [11] def Yosuke Watanuki [Q] 6-4 7-6(5)
  • Norrie v Zhizhen Zhang | H2H: First Meeting
MADRID, SPAIN – Cameron Norrie gained some much needed confidence after defeating Yosuke Watanuki and will now play Zhizhen Zhang in the third round.


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Cameron Norrie [11] def Yosuke Watanuki [Q] 6-4 7-6(5)

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Cameron Norrie is into the third round in Madrid after defeating Japanese qualifier Yosuke Watanuki in straight sets. Despite testing Watanuki’s serve early on, Norrie didn’t make the best of starts to the match as Watanuki made use of the matches he already had on the altitude of Madrid. Watanuki produced some solid baseline play as he broke to take a 3-1 lead before consolidating for a 4-1 lead.

However Norrie was in need in confidence and a win in Madrid will definitely help the cause and the Brit began to find his rhythm after trailing 4-1. The Brit used his quality in movement and shot-making to turn the momentum in his favour. Norrie proved to be too clinical and strong for the qualifier as he converted two of his three break point opportunities, sealing the next five games to claim the opening set.

After an efficient end to the opening set, Norrie carried the momentum into the second set by only dropping one point on serve in his opening three service games. However the Brit couldn’t break down Watanuki’s resistance in the big points as the world number 117 survived two tough games to take a 3-2 lead.

The Brit continued to be effective on serve as he dominated the baseline rallies and remained aggressive especially on the backhand. However Norrie continued to be wasteful on return and Watanuki saved two break points as the second set would be decided by a tiebreak.

Despite Watanuki’s aggressive serving, Norrie managed to outmanoeuvre his way to victory to seal a place in the third round in Madrid and some much needed confidence.


Cameron Norrie [11] v Zhizhen Zhang H2H & Match Fundamentals

Cameron Norrie [11] v Zhizhen Zhang H2H: First Meeting
Madrid Open 2023 Madrid, Spain
Clay (O) Prize Money: €48,835
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Awaiting Norrie in the third round is Zhizhen Zhang after he knocked out 21st seed Denis Shapovalov.


Tale of the Tape – Key Stats (2023)

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H2H: Cameron Norrie (WR 13) Zhizhen Zhang (WR 99)
Tournament Previous Best R3 (2022) N/A
1st Serve % 64.9 61.3
Service Games Won % 79.3 80.9
Break Points Saved % 59.4 55.1
2nd Serve Return Points Won % 53.8 46.2
Break Points Converted % 40.7 33.8

Norrie will have to be wary of Zhang’s efficiency on serve as he looks to keep up his consistent record when it comes to converting break point opportunities.



Playing Styles and Prediction

Zhang has had a consistent season so far on the challenger tour which has also been backed up by competing at two Masters 1000 events as well as the Australian Open. Zhang has a big serve and some big hitting from the baseline as he looks to use this power to continue his rise up the rankings and potentially enter the world’s top 70 by the end of the year.

Norrie will look to be aggressive on return and start the match better than he did against Watanuki as he looks to be proactive from the baseline. Meanwhile Zhang will look to step inside the baseline to take the match to Norrie and continue his consistently clinical serving. If Norrie can be consistent from the baseline and be unpredictable with his attacking play then he should win this match as long as he doesn’t concede too many unforced errors. If Norrie produces too many errors than the confidence of Zhang will rise and then it will be anyone’s match to win.

Prediction: Norrie in three sets.


Bernabe Zapata Miralles def Dan Evans [19] 6-3 6-2

As Norrie looks ahead to the third round, Dan Evans is now thinking about his next tournament in Rome after losing to Bernabe Zapata Miralles in straight sets. The Brit never really had control of the match as he fell to a 3-0 deficit in both sets, as he was broken on three occasions. Evans did well to keep the score as tight as he did but the 19th seed couldn’t bring his best level as he was one and done in the Spanish capital.

Evans will hope to gain some final wins before Roland Garros in Rome which starts on the 9 May.



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