DELRAY BEACH, FLA./WASHINGTON, February 20, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)
Cameron Norrie has come to life the past two weeks on the ATP Tour. First, in Rotterdam with a quarterfinal run last week. Now, he’s into his third career ATP Tour final and first since winning the Masters 1000 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells last October.
Not bad when one considers that the World No. 13 Norrie struggled at the beginning of 2022 by losing four straight matches. Now, with his 6-3, 6-3 semifinal victory over No. 4 seed Tommy Paul of the United States in the ATP 250 Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com Saturday afternoon, the British No. 1 has leveled his season win-loss record at 5-5.
This week in South Florida, Norrie has strung together wins over No. 85 Oscar Otte of Germany, fifth seed and No. 43 Sebastian Korda of the United States, whom he lost to in last year’s semifinals before gaining some revenge upon in Friday’s quarterfinals, and now the 41st-ranked Paul.
“I know Tommy very well, he’s one of my good friends on Tour,” Norrie said during his post-match, on-court interview. “It’s never easy coming out and playing him, but I’m was really happy with my level and I played very complete games on my serve. … I was able to dictate play when I could. I enjoyed the match. I definitely improved from yesterday.”
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) February 19, 2022
On Sunday, Norrie will play No. 2 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States, who needed just over three hours to secure a three-set three tie-break victory over No. 91 John Millman of Australia, 7-6 (8), 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4). The 2020 Delray Beach Open champion Opelka hit 16 aces and won 82 percent (60 of 73) of his first-serve points and outpointed Millman 130-116 to reach his second straight final.
Millman saved a trio of match points serving at 4-5 in the second set, the third with a blistering forehand winner that left Opelka flat-footed and stunned. He went on to win five straight points to hold serve for 5-all in a set that, like the first and third, went to a tie break. There were only two breaks of serve the entire match, one for each player.
3-set thriller 💥
Former champ @ReillyOpelka is back in the finals with a 7-6 6-7 7-6 win over Millman!
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 20, 2022
Meanwhile, Norrie faced just two break points during the 76-minute match at the Delray Beach Tennis Club and saved both of them. He broke Paul three times, including twice in the final set, first to go up 3-2 and then to close out the match on his first match-point opportunity. The Briton won 75 percent of his service points and although Paul hit more winners – 24 to 13 – he outpointed the American 62-45.
The victory improved Norrie’s lifetime record against Paul to 2-1 and Saturday’s victory lifted him into his eighth tour-level final. The loss was Paul’s 18th in 24 matches against Top-20 competition.
When Norrie was asked during his on-court interview Saturday afternoon if he had a preference whom he would like to play in the final, either Opelka or Millman, he said: “It’s going to be a battle. Reilly is obviously confident after winning Dallas last week and John is playing very solid beating Grigor [Dimitrov] yesterday. Both are in-form players and they both play well here. Both will be tough but I’m looking forward to the final.”
It’s No. 1 vs. No. 3 in doubles final
Sunday’s doubles final will pair the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds. On Saturday, No. 1 seeds Marcelo Arevalo-Gonzalez of El Salvador and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands defeated unseeded Marcos Giron of the United States, who was also a singles quarterfinalist, and Hans Hach Verdugo of Mexico, 6-3, 6-4, in the first semifinal. Then, No. 3 seeds Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan beat unseeded American wild cards Robert Galloway and Alex Lawson, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 10-4.
Arevalo and Rojer, ranked 27th and 36th respectively,won the Dallas Open last week. They have strung together seven straight victories to improve to 9-3 on the season. Nedovyesov and Qureshi are 10-5 this season.
By the numbers
Cameron Norrie played in his 14th ATP Tour semifinal on Saturday and improved his record to 7-7. He’s won the last seven ATP Tour semifinals he’s played in since losing to Sebastian Korda in last year’s Delray Beach Open semifinal.