• Cameron Norrie toughed out a win over Roman Safiullin to earn a first time clash with Rafael Nadal
  • Sole Brit standing in the singles draws after Heather Watson bowed out earlier in the day
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Cameron Norrie overcame Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin to set up a third-round encounter with Rafael Nadal.

 

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Recap: Cameron Norrie def. Roman Safiullin [Q] 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(3)

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It was another four-setter for Cameron Norrie as he emerged from Day Four as the only Brit left standing in either of the singles draws. Earlier in the day Heather Watson had bowed out after a long battle with Anett Kontaveit, leaving just Norrie as he took on Russian qualifier Ramon Safiullin.

From the outset this proved to be a battle, Despite being the first to break, Safiullin would stick to Norrie like glue for the entire match, breaking back immediately before taking the lead after a loose game by Norrie.

Coming from a set behind, the Brit broke the Russian early, but again was pegged back as they played a real cat-and-mouse game. Eventually Norrie broke at the end of the second set to level things up. Safiullin broke at the start of the third set, but Norrie responded immediately before edging ahead and also deflected four chances for the Russian to break him once more, and it felt like the tide was turning.

Just a couple of games into the fourth set, the rain came down, and eventually the match was moved to Margaret Court Arena to continue under the roof. Norrie was able to break for a lead and again hide to fight off Safiullin’s chances to break back and that was to be the Russian’s last stand as Norrie was able to close out the match and advance to the third round.

He told reporters, after the match: “I think it was tough to start with. It was pretty lively out there. And, yeah, it was tough to return his serve. Honestly, I started worse level and with some awful stuff.

“I was a set down and didn’t do much right in the second set, either. Yeah, wasn’t easy, but then I managed to play some decent tennis at the end of the second set.

“Going indoors was great for both of us, and it was a completely different match after we went indoors and actually found some great level. Really enjoyed the match after that. It was great stuff.”

 

Preview: Norrie v Rafael Nadal [2] | H2H: First Meeting

Cameron Norrie v Rafael Nadal [2] H2H: First Meeting
Australian Open Melbourne, Australia
Hard (O) Prize Money: A$215,000
Second on Rod Laver Arena, not before 8:30pm (9:30am GMT) Tennis TV/Eurosport Player if available

 

 

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Despite concerns about a back injury that kept Rafael Nadal out of the ATP Cup for Spain, so far, his progress through the first two rounds has been straight forward, and certainly will come in just a little fresher.

It will be a battle of the lefties, but the pair have very different games. Nadal will look to pin Norrie to the back of the court, and to dictate from the baseline with his heavy topspin groundstrokes but can also catch his opponents on the hop with dropshots after leaving them stranded at the back of the court.

Norrie’s movement has improved, and he is more than happy to come forward to polish off his shots, so a big key for him will be literally keeping up with Nadal, as he summarised.

“He’s obviously not really got many weaknesses, so I’m just gonna have to do what I do as well as I can and implement my game and try to play the points on my terms. Otherwise if he’s the one dictating, it’s gonna be tough and I’m gonna be running around a lot.”

 

Tale of the Tape – Key Stats (2020)

H2H: Rafael Nadal [2] (2) Cameron Norrie (69)
Tournament Previous Best Champion (2009) R3 (2021)
1st Serve % 64 65
Service Games Won % 88 77
Break Points Saved % 68 63
2nd Serve Return Points Won % 56 49
Break Points Converted % 43 40

 

Playing styles

Norrie’s movement has improved, and he is more than happy to come forward to polish off his shots, so a big key for him will be literally keeping up with Nadal, as he summarised.

“He’s obviously not really got many weaknesses, so I’m just gonna have to do what I do as well as I can and implement my game and try to play the points on my terms. Otherwise if he’s the one dictating, it’s gonna be tough and I’m gonna be running around a lot.”

The simple fact is whatever the supposed back ailment was, taking Nadal out of the ATP Cup certainly isn’t bothering him anymore, so Norrie will need to keep him on the move and try and exploit the times he stays behind he baseline. Nadal’s footspeed and court coverage is second to none so this is up to Norrie to make the most of the experience out there.

Prediction: Nadal in three sets

 

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