Norrie To Face Sandgren In Auckland Final
The ASB Classic could have a homegrown champion. Cameron Norrie, who grew up in Auckland but now represents Great Britain, reached his first ATP Tour final on Friday, beating German Jan-Lennard Struff 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.
Norrie is hardly known for his serve but it has carried him all week in New Zealand. He was broken for the first time all tournament to start the second set, but he regrouped, and behind 17 aces, beat Struff to claim their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
Norrie saved eight of 10 break points, and it looked like he'd have to stave off a few more as he served for the match. The 23-year-old pitched in two double faults to start the ninth game game, but won the next four points to advance.
“I was really, really nervous in that last game... slightly tight, but a big thanks to the crowd for getting me through that,” Norrie said. “It's so special... It's my first final and to do it at home, too, it means so much to me.”
The Brit will face American Tennys Sandgren, who will be playing in his second ATP Tour final. The right-hander put on a serving clinic against German Philipp Kohlschreiber, winning 94 per cent (31/33) of his first-serve points and saving all three break points to advance 6-4, 6-2.
“I've had some good serving days in the last two years or so, where I've really served well with my first serve and had some really clean days. In the semis of a 250? No, obviously not. To feel like I performed really well on a big match for myself, it's a good feeling, obviously,” Sandgren said.
“I trained really hard in November and December and put in a lot of good work, trying to mentally be as solid and sound as I can be, which is a problem for me sometimes. I get down on myself when things start to go wrong, get negative and beat myself up... So I've been working hard on that, and I feel like physically I'm the healthiest as I've been in over a year now.”
The 27-year-old American, who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals last year, fell in his maiden final in April at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston (l. to Johnson).
Norrie and Sandgren have never played a tour-level match against each other, but the Brit has won their past three meetings, all of which took place in 2017 on the ATP Challenger Tour.
“That wasn't a lot of fun. He wasn't my favourite guy,” Sandgren said.
Norrie might be the crowd favourite on Saturday, but Sandgren will have plenty of support back home. Despite the 19-hour time difference between Tennessee and Auckland, his family and friends have been hosting watch parties.
“My friend has a projector screen in his basement, so they'll put the Tennis Channel on the projector screen, and they get behind me,” Sandgren said.