Cameron Norrie suffers third-round Australian Open exit to Jiri Lehecka
Cameron Norrie’s hopes of reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time ended with a five-set loss to Czech youngster Jiri Lehecka.
The British number one struggled initially in breezy conditions but looked to be on the right path when he opened up a two sets to one lead.
But 21-year-old Lehecka, ranked 71 in the world, battled back to take the second and Norrie took a medical timeout for treatment to his left knee early in the fifth set before falling to a 6-7 (8) 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-4 defeat.
It will be a big disappointment for Norrie, who beat Lehecka on his way to the final of the ATP tournament in his home town of Auckland last week and had started the season by defeating Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz at the United Cup.
In hindsight, Norrie may feel he played a little too much in the build-up, and he was not able to find the same form here that he showed in Sydney.
Czech tennis has largely been about a remarkable production line of female talent but Lehecka is one of a cohort of young men hoping to emulate the success of Tomas Berdych.
Those next round feels for Lehecka 💃💃#AusOpen #AO2023 pic.twitter.com/DdxM6Hxj6n
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2023
He possesses a big serve and forehand and had the better of the first set, forcing Norrie to save three break points, but could not convert a 6-4 lead in the tie-break.
Norrie showed his competitive desire to save three set points, the first with a fine pass down the line, and clinched his second opportunity.
But the 27-year-old was not playing well, missing time and again with his forehand, and Lehecka held onto an early break to claim the second set.
Norrie appeared to have found his range in the third, making only six unforced errors compared to 27 in the first two sets, but the momentum switched around again at the start of the fourth.
The 11th seed was in big trouble when he dropped serve again in the first game of the decider and called the trainer to have his left knee taped up.
Norrie fought hard to try to find a way back after going a double break down but he was unable to conjure the same magic as Andy Murray and Lehecka served the match out to love for the biggest moment of his young career.
WATCH: ‘Greek god’ Marton Fucsovics takes shirt off to reveal ripped body
Marton Fucsovics shows off his muscles again.
Aryna Sabalenka eyes Iga Swiatek’s No 1 spot – Why Sabalenka could usurp the Pole in the coming months
Aryna Sabalenka’s world No 1 goal could seen be within touching distance.
What Novak Djokovic needs to do to be top seed at French Open
Novak Djokovic has a big chance to be back at No 1 in time for the French Open.
Wimbledon reach verdict on Russian players with announcement imminent
The decision on whether Russian and Belarusian players can compete at Wimbledon this summer has been made.
Tennis legend predicts how many Grand Slams Novak Djokovic will win
Novak Djokovic is “going to be winning majors as long as he’s healthy”.
Aryna Sabalenka, WTA and Steve Simon slammed as tension in tennis continues to escalate
All is not well in women’s tennis.
Carlos Alcaraz off the mark in Miami as Jimmy Connors explains why he is head and shoulders above his peers
Carlos Alcaraz up and running in Miami as Jimmy Connors waxes lyrical about Spaniard.
Ons Jabeur’s ‘season is just starting now’ after injury woes
Ons Jabeur ready to go again.
WTA accused of ignoring request for meeting with Ukrainian players – ‘Just silence’
Ukrainian players want to meet with the WTA board.