Norrie Stuns Nadal, Great Britain Takes Commanding Lead
Spurred on by comeback wins from Cameron Norrie and Katie Swan, 15th-seeded Great Britain took a stunning 2-0 lead over 4th-seeded Spain on Day 3 of the United Cup. Team GB are now a win from taking control of Group D, having defeated Australia 3-2 in their opening tie.
Opening up the tie, Norrie had never won a set in his four previous meetings against Rafael Nadal prior to their clash at the United Cup. However, the World No. 14 turned the tables in dramatic style Saturday when he overcame the 36-year-old 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a statement win to give Great Britain a 1-0 lead.
In front of a capacity Ken Rosewall Arena crowd, the 27-year-old timed the ball cleanly off both wings, hitting through Nadal with his flat backhand to triumph after two hours and 45 minutes.
"It was a great match," Norrie said. "At the beginning of the match he was winning some of the tricky points. Him coming to the net and drop-shotting me. I managed to stay tough in the longer rallies and embraced the situation. I think by ranking it is the biggest win of my career."
Norrie now holds a 2-0 record on the new season, having defeated Australian Alex de Minaur in his opening match at the new mixed-teams event. Great Britain, led by captain Tim Henman, won that opening Group D tie 3-2. Katie Swan will aim to double her nation’s lead when she faces Spaniard Nuria Parrizas Diaz in the last match of the day in Sydney.
In an entertaining clash, Nadal showed great agility to cover the court in the first set, firing an array of stunning passing shots to move ahead. The 36-year-old, playing his first match since the Nitto ATP Finals in November, struggled to maintain his level as the match went on. Norrie upped his intensity to outlast the Spaniard in brutal exchanges.
The four-time tour-level champion gained the crucial break in the sixth game of the second set, before he stepped inside the baseline to dictate in the decider. After breaking, Norrie saved two break points at 3-2, 15/40, before he held his nerve to seal the biggest win of his career by Pepperstone ATP Ranking, letting out a roar.
Inspired by her compatriot's efforts, No.145 Katie Swan took to the court and tallied her first Top 100 win since defeating No.48 Sloane Stephens on the grass of Bad Homburg last summer. The 23-year-old rallied from a set down to defeat No.70 Nuria Parrizas Diaz 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 to tally her first United Cup win.
Parrizas Diaz came out firing in the first set. With her forehand finding good length and speed through the court, the Spaniard rolled through the opening set with the help of 10 winners on her forehand side.
"You're gonna get your chance," Captain Henman advised Swan late in the first set. "She's playing phenomenal tennis and you've hung in there. Strong service game here, then she'll be saying wait a minute, Rafa's in the box, I gotta win this."
With the positive from her captain, Swan turned the match around on a dime. She hit just 4 unforced errors in the second set, while Parrizas Diaz's form came back to earth. The Spaniard hit just two forehand winners in the set while hitting 17 unforced errors.
The trend continued in the decider. Unable to rediscover her blistering level, Parrizas Diaz struggled to put any pressure on the young Brit. Swan raced to the finish line to cap off an inspired day for the underdogs.
The task now falls on Paula Badosa and Pablo Carreno Busta to level the tie on Sunday. Playing in the No.1 position for Spain, Badosa will face Harriet Dart, looking to avenge her loss to the Brit at the Billie Jean King Cup last fall. Carreno Busta will face Daniel Evans.
If the tie is level at 2-2 after singles, mixed doubles will determine the winner.