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Cameron Norrie produced his best ever grand slam victory to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time.
Norrie had never beaten a player ranked as high as world number 11 Casper Ruud at a major tournament and had lost all three previous matches against the Norwegian, who is a three-time slam finalist.
But, flying the flag alone for Britain in the singles once more, the 28-year-old played with purpose and courage to claim a 6-4 6-7 (7) 6-4 6-3 victory.
Normally known as a baseline grinder, Norrie came to the net 56 times during the contest and cracked 63 winners.
Given the occasion, this is one of the best wins of his career and he said: “It’s so special. I just kept a really good level throughout the match.
“I’ve been working really hard in the off-season on trying to be a little bit more aggressive. I managed to free up in the match and I really let go.”
Norrie fell away from the tremendously high standard he had set since 2021 over the second half of last season and admitted he felt a little burnt out.
But a two-week break prior to the Davis Cup finals and an invigorating pre-season, hiking in the snowy French mountains near his base in Monte-Carlo and working with a new assistant coach in Stephen Huss, sent him into 2024 in high spirits.
Victory over Alex De Minaur at the United Cup was a strong start and he has built on that here, living up to his seeding of 19 thanks to a gritty second-round comeback against Giulio Zeppieri.
He knew he needed to do something different against Ruud from their previous meetings, and it quickly became clear he wanted to force the pace against one of the most solid baseliners.
He looked to come to the net as often as possible while throwing in drop shots and short angles to keep his opponent guessing.
Ruud’s forehand is a formidable weapon and Norrie went straight after his backhand, which paid immediate dividends with a break for 2-1.
The British number one had to dig deep to hold onto his advantage, getting out of a hole at 0-40 in the sixth game and saving another break point at 5-4 before serving it out.
Ruud was the better player in the second set – Norrie again recovered from 0-40 at 1-2 – with the Norwegian barely facing any pressure on serve.
The tie-break should have been Norrie’s, though, but he narrowly missed a backhand down the line at 6-4 and Ruud saved another set point with a big serve before clinching his second opportunity with an ace.
Sitting down at one set all must have been galling for Norrie, and Ruud seemed to have taken a grip on the match when he finally converted his ninth break point to lead 3-2.
However, Norrie hit straight back, with Ruud suddenly the man under pressure on his serve.
The British number one was coming to the net on virtually every point and he created a set point at 5-4, taking it when Ruud netted a backhand.
The 11th seed had also played a five-setter in the second round but the fight seemed to drain out of him at the start of the fourth and, although he did force a break point at 2-4, Norrie again had the answer.
Published: by Radio NewsHub