ATP Lyon Final: Who Will Complete Their Unfinished Business?

Cameron Norrie ATP Rome
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Cam Norrie reaches the final here in Lyon as the one seed, looking to complete the job he began last year, where he lost to Stef Tsitsipas in the final. He faces the unseeded and surprising Alex Molcan, who is putting togoether a good season for himself, especially on clay. Both have come through decent draws, with Norrie surpassing two rising young stars in Holger Rune and Sebastian Baez, and Molcan defeating Alex de Minaur, Karen Khachanov, and two others. A Norrie win would secure him his second title of the year and fourth overall, while Molcan is seeking his first title in three tries. What can each of them do to lift the trophy?

ATP Lyon Final: Cam Norrie vs Alex Molcan

This battle of defensive players features two lefties with loopy forehands, and should be closer than its 36-point ranking differential. Neither player has a great opening against the other, as they have similar games, though Norrie’s is dependent more on power and Molcan’s more on movement. Those two things fit together lock and key, and the match should feature long rallies. This should be good watching, and probably favors Norrie’s experience over the potential nerves of Molcan, who is chasing his first title.

Serve Strategies

Norrie has the slight advantage on serve, with a little extra power, but each player should be able to take advantage of the other’s second serve. If they are shrewd, however, they will use the second serve to slice to the other’s forehand. A slice from the ad court is obvious for a lefty, but in this case, each of them possesses a forehand that likes to hit hard off of heavy pace. Slow slices are the opposite, and create little foothold for a big forehand. A slow second serve to each of their backhands would be unwise, however, as they both move quickly with short motions and could snap the ball into the corners before the server has time to react.

Take advantage of the weaker wing

Molcan’s backhand isn’t very powerful, but it lacks the stiffness of Norrie’s and can be used well to create angles on short balls. Molcan may do well to put Norrie into the backhand cage, as that is certainly his weaker wing. Norrie’s backhand has the tendency to create short balls, because it is not as powerful as his forehand, and this could lead to good opportunities for Molcan. Pressure on the backhand may then lead to pressure on Norrie’s forehand, which is known to fail him with a little more frequency than is comfortable. Norrie could use the same strategy against Molcan, however, but I like the Slovak’s backhand better in that battle.

Experience and Mentality

Norrie certainly has the experience advantage, and that may be the key here. His solid defense may draw Molcan into errors, if the Slovak gets impatient and tries to force his way into a maiden title. Norrie likes the strategy, and is likely to be very solid mentally, which should manifest on court as a strict wall of defense. I expect either player would hang tough if they get behind; Norrie is robotic in his mentality, and we just saw Molcan move past Alex de Minaur in straight sets after being mostly outplayed in the first set (which he somehow took for himself in a tiebreak).

Norrie has the higher gear of the two, and if nothing unusual happens, the British #1 should take the tournament one year after losing it. Molcan should dip into strategy and target the backhand, while not allowing himself to get frustrated by Norrie’s defense; and in this way he can finally get past the hump and lift his first ATP trophy.

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