Estoril Open Final Will Match Battle of Lefties

Cameron Norrie (photo: @EstorilOpen/Twitter)

ESTORIL/WASHINGTON, May 1, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie has been enjoying a red clay high the past two weeks. After a surprising quarterfinal run last week in Barcelona, Norrie has strung together four quality wins to reach the title match in the ATP 250 Millennium Estoril Open in Portugal this week.

On Saturday afternoon, the unseeded, 58th-ranked Norrie withstood 16 service aces from No. 6 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, saved five of six break points and won 7-6 (5), 7-5 to advance to Sunday’s final against fellow left-handed-hitting Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The No. 7 seed from Spain defeated fellow Spaniard and No. 8 seed Alejandro Davidovich Folkina, 6-1, 6-4, in the other semifinal.

Norrie has been to one previous final, two years ago in Auckland. His 18-8 win-loss record this season is a tremendous improvement over last year’s pandemic-interrupted 2020 season, in which he went 14-15. He’s currently tied for third in tour-level victories with Jannik Sinner and trails only Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev, who are tied for first with 26 wins.

During an on-court interview after his victory, Norrie described his ascent into the championship round this way: “I was really tough. I started a little bit slow and managed to ease my way into the match. [I] played really good when break point down and went after it.

“[Marin] was serving great and it was really tricky to get his first serve back. … I am fortunate to get through and I am just happy to be in my second final.”

Indeed, the 42nd-ranked Cilic won 83 percent of his first-serve points, 10 percent above his season average. Although Norrie had trouble with his first-serve returns, he won nearly half – 47 percent – of his second-serve returns, which contributed toward his victory. Norrie outpointed Cilic 84-74.

“I am keeping a really consistent level, even on days [when] I am not quite feeling [my best],” Norrie said, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “I am still digging in there and making it physical and playing on my terms, being the one dictating points. I think that is the reason why I am having a bit of success. I just want to keep improving and keep getting better.”

Meanwhile, Ramos-Vinolas, 33, converted five of his six break-point opportunities and came back from being a break down in both sets during his 77-minute victory against the 21-year-old Davidovich Fokina. The victory advanced the Spaniard to his 10th ATP Tour final.

For Ramos-Vinolas, it was his tour-leading 15th victory on clay this season, well ahead of Tsitsipas, Pablo Carreño Busta and Federico Delbonis, each whom has won nine.

In his post-match interview, Ramos-Vinolas described a sense of happiness. “I am fighting a lot [and I am] tactically [doing] good,” he said. Ramos-Vinolas will take a 2-0 head-to-head win-loss record against Norrie into the final. “Tomorrow is another match, another day and I have a really tough opponent who [has been] playing really good tennis [throughout] the season. Last week, he played three good matches and this week he has beaten very good players. I think tomorrow will be very difficult.”