Britain’s Cameron Norrie cements his status among the game’s elite with latest win

Cameron Norrie

Cameron Norrie’s impressive rise continued as he battled his way back from the brink of defeat against Carlos Alcaraz to book a place in the semi-finals of the Western and Southern Open.

Norrie run to the Wimbledon semi-finals last month was evidence that he can mix it with the game’s elite on the game’s biggest stages, yet backing up that run was always going to be a challenge.

A disappointing defeat against Borna Coric in the last four clash on Saturday night put a dampener on Norrie’s momentum, but his performances in Cincinnati suggest he now feels as if he belongs among the game’s big-hitters, with the manner of his win against Alcaraz almost as impressive as the result.

Trailing 3-1 to Spanish third seed Alcaraz in the decisive third set, the Briton refused to succumb and eventually ground out a 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 6-4 victory to set up a last-four showdown with Borna Coric in Cincinnati.

Norrie, who had led 4-1 in the second set having taken the first, told the ATP Tour’s official website: “That was unbelievable. Credit to Carlos. I was up a set and a break, 4-1, and I kind of lost a little bit of vision.

“I was thinking a little bit too much about the finish line rather than focusing on how I was winning points and I honestly got a little bit tight and he raised his level, didn’t give me anything.”

Nineteen-year-old Alcaraz, who had beaten Norrie in each of their previous three meetings, two of them this year, looked on course to complete a fourth when he led 3-1 in the third set having scrapped his way back into the match.

However the 26-year-old, who had dispensed with teenagers Holger Rune and Ben Shelton to make it to the quarter-finals, put his renowned strength to good use to wear down a redoubtable opponent, breaking in the ninth game to set up the win.

Norrie said: “I just wanted to hang tough with him and I think the only place I had him better was the legs and the physicality, so I was just trying to make every rally as physical as I could and make it tough for him to finish points.

“It’s tough because he can take the racquet completely out of your hand. When he’s dictating with the forehand, it’s really tough and you’re running a lot.

“I just had to try to put the ball in awkward positions in the court. I managed to serve well, I improved a lot on my previous matches.”

Norrie’s impressive run in Cincinnati backs up his performance at Wimbledon, where he reached his first Grand Slam semi-final last month and he admits that success has raised his profile in the UK.

“It was funny. You go down to get a coffee and the barista recognises you, ‘oh, don’t worry about it, today, it is alright’. I am like, ‘mate, I can pay for it, it’s fine’. He says, ‘ah, don’t worry about it’,” he said with a smile.

“I went to get my dry cleaning and they were like, ‘ah, a great Wimbledon, you know what this time don’t worry about it’. I am like, ‘man, it’s fine, I can pay for it’.

“A couple of times I went for breakfast and people asked for photos and congratulated me in a very nice way, it is cool that people were watching and following and supporting as well.

“It’s cool that I was getting some recognition. With this Wimbledon, a lot more people know who I am now. It’s great for me. But it doesn’t change too much, I want to keep pushing, keep improving, keep trying to get towards the top of the game.”

Norrie will lead the Great British team in their Davis Cup battles after his US Open push has come to an end and he is eager to embrace the role as a talisman.

“Glasgow is an amazing venue, the people love their tennis and everyone got up for it the last time they held it there,” he added.

“They did a very good job especially with the stadium court and the atmosphere and acoustics. I’m looking forward to playing at home and the whole team is excited.

“We want to put on a great show and especially for the young players coming through; hopefully we can inspire them. My aunt and uncle live in Aberdeen and they will come and watch. I’m not sure my dad is making the trip over (from New Zealand). He’s just had a long trip in Europe so I don’t know if he’s ready to come back so soon.

“My game is improving and hopefully I can play my best tennis. I really like the team format having played college tennis. You are playing for more than yourself, you are playing for your team and country. Hopefully we can make home advantage count.”