Norrie Topples Thiem In Lyon For First Top 5 Win

Brit to next face lucky loser Rinderknech, who earned career victory over Sinner

Cameron Norrie has been playing the best tennis of his career during the clay-court season, and he scored his biggest win with a 6-3, 6-2 stunner over World No. 4 Dominic Thiem on Thursday at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon.

The British lefty had only won seven tour-level matches on clay before 2021, but has already amassed 10 victories on the surface this season after reaching the final in Estoril (l. Ramos-Vinolas) and quarter-finals in Barcelona (l. Nadal).

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Norrie’s opponent Thiem arrived in Lyon as the top seed with a wild card, searching for his best form after a semi-final run in Madrid (l. Zverev) and third-round appearance in Rome (l. Sonego). The 2020 US Open champion struggled against Norrie’s deep returns, and the Brit broke serve three times en route to his first Top 5 victory.

“I’m so pleased to win today, it’s the biggest win of my career and my highest-ranked win,” Norrie said in an on-court interview. “It’s such a beautiful day in Lyon… I couldn’t be happier to get the win today and to get another match on the clay before Roland Garros.”

Thiem couldn’t find any inroads against the Norrie serve, and was unable to create any break opportunities across both sets. The Brit won 91 per cent of points behind his first serve, and he struck 73 per cent of first serves to stay in control of the match.

Norrie, who is into his fifth quarter-final of the season, will next face French lucky loser Arthur Rinderknech. The Brit will be seeking his 22nd win of 2021, which would set a new personal best (21-25 in 2019).

“I’m moving well and I’ve played a lot of matches [on clay],” Norrie said. “I’m feeling good on my feet and hitting my forehand well and serving well. I’m looking forward to the next match, it’s going to be a tricky one as both those guys are great players.”

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Norrie and Rinderknech will reignite an old college rivalry in their Lyon quarter-final clash after the Frenchman stunned sixth seed Jannik Sinner with a dramatic 6-7(7), 6-2, 7-5 comeback. It will be the pair’s first tour-level meeting, but there will be history between Norrie, a former Texas Christian University player and Rinderknech, who graduated from Texas A&M University.

“I had no idea I was playing against [Norrie], I didn’t check the draw,” Rinderknech said after the victory, before breaking into a grin. “It will be an old college match, he knows what I’m talking about. It will be cool.”

To get there, Rinderknech had to survive two hours and 36 minutes against #NextGenATP Italian Sinner. The lucky loser bounced back emphatically after dropping the opening set having held two set points at 5-4 on Sinner’s serve in the first set. He lost only one first-serve point (14/15) on his way to dominating the second set, and edged through the third after earning the decisive fifth break of the set at 6-5.

For No.125-ranked Rinderknech, who had only faced seven Top 100 players in tour-level main draws before taking on Sinner, his victory over the World No. 17 is his biggest by ranking.

“Lots of feelings coming to my head right now, it’s difficult to describe,” Rinderknech said. “It’s actually my first match with some crowd since the beginning of COVID-19, so it was even better. Of course it helped me a little bit. Playing with this atmosphere was great. I’m so happy to finish this match because it was so tough to finish it.”