Norrie Edges Murray In Cincinnati

Felix & Sinner set third-round clash at ATP Masters 1000 event

Cameron Norrie outlasted his fellow Briton Andy Murray in an engrossing battle of attrition Wednesday in Cincinnati, where the ninth seed triumphed 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the pair’s second-round clash at the Western & Southern Open.

Neither player was able to take control for any significant period during the tight two-hour, 38-minute encounter in Ohio, but it was Norrie who found something extra in the closing stages as two-time champion Murray began to struggle physically in the Cincinnati heat. A solitary break late in both the second and third sets was enough for Norrie to secure his first win against Murray and his 39th tour-level win of the year.

“I just needed to put a lot of balls in the court,” said Norrie after levelling his ATP Head2Head series against Murray at 1-1. “At the start of the match nothing was really working for me, I was not really being physical, I was not really executing how I liked.

“Credit to Andy, he came out and was using his slice a lot, coming forward well. He reads the game incredibly, so credit to him and it was not easy towards the end, I managed just to find a way.”

A match of fine margins was defined by some pivotal moments, most notably when Murray pushed a routine backhand volley wide when he had break point in the opening game of the second set. Norrie made no mistake when his opportunities came, breaking in the eighth game of the second set and the ninth game of the third as his consistency from deep ensured the Murray delivery was frequently under pressure.

“Honestly, I turned away and I thought the volley was on the line, but it’s just those moments," said Norrie, who prevailed despite striking one fewer winners (33) than his opponent. "There were a couple in the second and third set as well, when he had a couple of break chances, and then I was able to play the bigger points a little bit better. It came down to one or two points and that was the difference.”

Norrie will next face fifth seed Casper Ruud or American wild card Ben Shelton in Cincinnati, where he fell in the opening round in two previous appearances. The 26-year-old claimed his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells last year, and Norrie now holds a 12-6 match record at the elite level in 2022.

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Earlier on Wednesday, Felix Auger-Aliassime made a strong start to his Cincinnati campaign with a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 victory against Alex de Minaur.

The seventh seed was in fine form on return in his first ATP Head2Head meeting with De Minaur. Auger-Aliassime converted four of six break points on the way to a 78-minute win that improved his match record for 2022 to 35-19.

Auger-Aliassime reached the quarter-finals at his home tournament in Montreal last week, and the 22-year-old seeks another strong showing in Cincinnati in order to boost his chances of qualifying for November’s Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. Wednesday’s win lifted the Canadian one spot to sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

Jannik Sinner is also in the running to qualify for the season-ending showpiece in Italy, and the 10th-seed will be Auger-Aliassime’s third-round opponent in Cincinnati. Sinner advanced to the third round following Miomir Kecmanovic’s retirement with the Italian leading 7-5, 3-1 in the pair’s second-round clash.

It will be the second ATP Head2Head series meeting between Auger-Aliassime and Sinner, after the Canadian prevailed 6-1, 6-2 in the third round in Madrid in May.

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