Norrie Nullifies Opelka Power To Claim Delray Title

Brit drops just one set on way to ATP 250 title

When it came to the moments that mattered most, Cameron Norrie’s return game came to the party in the final of the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com.

The World No. 13 stayed patient to win tie-breaks in both sets against the big-serving of Reilly Opelka and capture a third ATP Tour title with a 7-6(1), 7-6(4) victory on Sunday.

Norrie opened 2022 with four straight losses but found his feet with a quarter-final run in Rotterdam before performing strongly this week to reach the final in Delray Beach. The 2021 BNP Paribas Open champion only dropped one set on his way to the title as he moved to a positive 6-5 match record for the season with his win over World No. 20 Opelka.

“I thought I played a very clean match," said Norrie after the win. "I didn’t face a break point so that was great. I was happy with the way I played and obviously with the result.

"The tie-breaks I played extremely aggressively, the second one especially, I managed to put a couple of balls away and I was reading the play great. [I'm] super happy to get the win and beat a guy like Reilly, who is confident and playing well and won [the Dallas title] last week.”

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Norrie came out confidently and regularly found a way to make inroads on the Opelka serve, but the World No. 13 was still unable to convert any of the four break point opportunities he carved out in an engrossing first set.

The Brit persevered and eventually got his reward. Opelka had won six out of six tie-breaks during his title run in Dallas and another four this week in Delray Beach, but Norrie’s returning excelled under pressure and he took it 7/1 to seal the first set.

Opelka then received treatment for a sore elbow but that didn’t seem to hinder his biggest weapon, the American ending the match with 25 aces to bring his tournament total to 81. He limited his opponent to just one break point in the second set but was unable to conjure one of his own against Norrie’s serve in the match.

The second-set tie-break was a tenser affair than the first, Norrie staying calm behind a backhand volley to secure the first mini-break of the tie-break and bring up match point at 6/4. Opelka then fired a forehand long to make Norrie the first British winner at Delray Beach after one hour, 52 minutes.

Opelka was positive about his performance despite Sunday's defeat. “It was a nice two weeks," said the American after the match. "I played a lot of matches here, a lot of long three-set matches, so my body is definitely feeling it.”

He also felt all-round improvements were responsible for his rise to a career-high ATP Ranking of 19. “Just going through everything [helps]," said Opelka. "Gaining more experience, more knowledge, getting stronger and fitter. It’s hard to pick one thing, there are so many little details that make a big difference. I think it’s just overall growth.”

With the win, Norrie takes a 2-1 lead over Opelka in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. The World No. 13 attributes the form that has brought him to the brink of the Top 10 to a change of mind set. "I’m able to dictate the play from the beginning of the point," he said after the match. "I’m definitely more aggressive than I was when I [first] came on tour.

"I had a tendency to be too passive in the bigger moments and I’ve changed that a little bit. I’ve been the one being the protagonist, the one executing the short balls and moving the other guy.”