Cameron Norrie survived his compatriot Andy Murray in a riveting match of attrition on Wednesday in Cincinnati, where the ninth seed triumphed 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the pair’s second-round match Western & Southern Open.
Neither player was able to take control for any significant period during the tight two hour and 38 minute encounter in Ohio, but it was Norrie who found something special in the closing stages as two-time champion Murray began to struggle physically in the Cincinnati Heat. A single break late in sets two and three was enough for Norrie to secure his first win over Murray and his 39th tour-level win of the year.
“I just had to put a lot of balls on the court,” Norrie said after leveling his ATP Head2Head streak 1-1 against Murray. “In the beginning of the game nothing really worked for me, I wasn’t really physical, I wasn’t really performing like I wanted to.
“Thanks to Andy, he came out and used his slice a lot and made good progress. He reads the game amazingly so credit goes to him and it wasn’t easy towards the end, I just managed to find a way.”
A fine-margin game was defined by a few pivotal moments, most notably when Murray pushed a routine backhand volley wide when he had a break point in the opening game of the second set. Norrie made no mistake when his opportunities arose, breaking in game eight of the second set and ninth game of the third as his consistency from deep ensured Murray’s delivery was frequently under pressure.
“Honestly, I turned away thinking the volley was on the line, but it’s just those moments,” said Norrie, who prevailed despite scoring one goal less (33) than his opponent. “There were a couple in the second and third set when he had a few break chances and then I was able to play the bigger points a little better. It came down to a point or two and that made the difference.”
Norrie will face the fifth seed next Kasper Ruud or American wild card Ben Shelton in Cincinnati, where he fell in the opening round in two previous appearances. The 26-year-old clinched his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells last year and Norrie now holds a 12-6 match record at elite level in 2022.
The seventh seed was in fine form upon his return in his first ATP Head2Head meeting with De Minaur. Auger-Aliassime converted four of six break points en route to a 78-minute win that improved his 2022 game record to 35-19.
Auger-Aliassime reached the quarter-finals at his home tournament in Montreal last week and the 22-year-old is aiming for another strong performance in Cincinnati to boost his chances of qualifying for November Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. Wednesday’s victory moved the Canadian down a spot to sixth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.