Fifth Time’s the Charm for Cameron Norrie against Rafael Nadal

Cameron Norrie celebrates victory over Rafael Nadal.

The inaugural United Cup held in Australia has thrown up some interesting matchups. For Brits, the big match took place earlier today. as world #2 Rafael Nadal against British #1 Cameron Norrie. In their four previous meetings, Spaniard Nadal had not even lost a set to the Brit.

Starting in 2021 when three of their meetings took place. The first meeting was in Australia, at the first Grand Slam of 2021.  The first set was close as Norrie stayed with the Spaniard, and looked to be taking the set to a tiebreak. However, the Spaniard showed why he is one of the greatest of all time and broke Norrie to take the set. The second set was easier for Nadal, who broke twice to ease through to a two-set lead. The third (and ultimately final) set was a repeat of the first. Norrie tried hard to get back into the match, but Nadal was just too good and broke again towards the end of the set to take the match 7-5 6-2 7-5.

The next meeting was at the Barcelona Open later that season. Nadal was on home turf and his beloved clay. The odds were stacked against the Briton and the first set was just total domination by the Spaniard. Norrie only managed to hold serve once as Nadal galloped through the set. The second was a little closer, as Norrie got his eye in and held serve more comfortably. Eventually, though, Nadal broke and took the match in straight sets 6-1 6-4.

Their third meeting of the year came in the last 32 at Roland Garros. Nadal was the third seed and Norrie was unseeded. Although Norrie put on a good match, the Brit was outplayed and outclassed by Nadal. The Spaniard broke the Brit in each of the sets to yet again win in straight sets 6-3 6-3 6-3, in truth barely needing to get out of first gear to take a 3-0 lead in their head-to-head.

In the 2022 tennis season, the pair only met once: in Mexico at the Acapulco Open. In the final fourth seed Nadal against sixth seed Norrie. The Brit and Spaniard both hoped for the win, but obviously, with the head-to-head, the odds were still against Norrie. It proved so again when Nadal broke Norrie in both sets to claim the win in straight sets again 6-4 6-4.

The mixed event between the ATP and WTA, where players can earn ranking points and kick starts the 2023 season saw Britain and Spain drawn in the same group. Once again Cameron Norrie and Nadal were against each other. As normal, the first set went the way of Nadal, who broke Norrie and took the lead. The second set saw Norrie fight back. The Brit broke the Spaniard and held on to level up the match. This was groundbreaking, as it was the first time that Norrie had taken a set from Nadal. A deciding set for the win. If Nadal took it, then Norrie could still be proud that he had finally taken a set from the world #2.

The match was nicely poised at 2-2 and 30 all in the final set when Nadal showed great sportsmanship as Norrie got the ball back and it hit him on the body and went back over the net. The umpire had missed this, but Nadal conceded the point

Nadal went on to save that breakpoint, but the Briton forced another one shortly after. He took it and with it the lead in the decider. He was able to hold his nerve to claim his first win over Nadal in five attempts. More importantly, it gave Team GB a 1-0 lead in the tie. Katie Swan followed up with an impressive win over Nuria Parrizas Diaz in another three-set thriller, giving the British team a solid lead going into tomorrow’s final three matches against Spain. If the Brits win against Spain, they will top their group.

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