Norrie Breaks Korda Duck To Reach Delray Beach SFs

Opelka broken but not beaten by Mannarino

The third time — and the third set — was the charm for Cameron Norrie against Sebastian Korda in Delray Beach on Friday.

After straight-set losses to the American at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com (SF) last season and the Australian Open (R1) this year, the World No. 13 got his first win in the ATP Head2Head matchup, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(4).

In the quarter-final, Norrie was at his best early and late. After an inspired start, he had to stop his opponent from serving out the match in the third before a steady finish earned him the win.

“Its always a tricky matchup against Sebi,” the top seed said post-match. “He’s such a great player. He’s a tough matchup for me in general, but I ended up coming out here, I was super aggressive and managed to be the one dictating play a little bit more.

“Then he started doing that to me in the second set, and what a battle it was in the third set.”

After a pair of one-sided sets, the decider was finely poised at 4-4. Korda used pair of forehand winners — one off the ground, one off the volley — to convert the first break chance for either man in the frame. But after he closed from 0/40 to 30/40 in his attempt to serve it out, a double fault restored parity.

With new life, Norrie tightened his game down the stretch and Korda could not recover from some untimely errors.

It was all Norrie in the early going, as he created a break point in all four of his first-set return games and converted in the last two. He faced his first break points in a six-deuce second game of set two, with Korda taking his fourth opportunity to edge ahead and kickstart a one-sided set in his favour.

After escaping with the win, Norrie will face fourth seed Tommy Paul in Saturday’s semis, after the fourth seed dismissed Stefan Kozlov, 6-3, 6-1, in an all-American quarter-final earlier on Friday. 

“Tommy is so talented. He's one of my good friends on tour,” Norrie previewed. “It’s never going to be easy, but tomorrow is going to be a battle. He’s so talented and he comes forward a lot.”

With a win in his third ATP Tour quarter-final of the season, Paul gets through to the final four for the first time. He finished the 2021 season with his first ATP Tour title in Stockholm and entered Delray Beach with a career-high ATP Ranking of World No. 41.

The in-form American has dropped just six games in two Delray matches, starting with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Denis Istomin on Wednesday.

Reilly Opelka opened the Friday evening session with a 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-1 win over seventh seed Adrian Mannarino. The newly crowned Dallas Open champion dropped serve for the first time in his past six matches, but bounced back with a commanding performance in the final set.

From 2-2 in the opening-set tie-break, Opelka fired back-to-back passing shot winners — including one to cap a gruelling rally — to spark a run of six straight points to seal the opening set.

Mannarino made the most of an early break in the second, but his second-seeded opponent struck early in the third to open up a 3-0 advantage. The World No. 20 broke again at love later in the set to book a second straight ATP Tour semi-final appearance.

Opelka will face John Millman on Saturday after the 32-year-old took out third seed Grigor Dimitrov, 6-4, 6-4, in the Delray Beach nightcap. The Aussie broke in the ninth game of each set, and clawed back from 0-3 down in the second.

Millman holds a 3-0 advantage over Opelka in their ATP Head2Head history, with the two most recent wins coming in 2021. He's also 4-0 in tie-breaks against the American, winning at least one in each match.

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