Cameron Norrie loses thrilling five-setter against Zverev as last Brit falls at Aus Open | Tennis | Sport

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Cameron Norrie loses thrilling five-setter against Zverev as last Brit falls at Aus Open | Tennis | Sport

A free Palestine protester interrupted Cam Norrie’s Australian Open clash with Alex Zverev – but there was no stopping the Olympic champion reaching the quarter-finals. The brave British No.1 put on the war paint with white sun block and put up a great fight in an epic clash in the Margaret Court Arena. He twice battled back to draw level on sets before losing a match tiebreak 7-5 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6 after four hours and five – the longest match of his career.

The last British singles player is out of the first Grand Slam of the season with the only consolation that it happened the day after all the Aussies lost.

When Norrie was serving at 1-4 down in the third set, a masked female protester at the far end of the stadium started throwing leaflets onto the court from the front row. A female member of the audience – and then a male spectator – grabbed her and dragged her up the stairs and out of the arena. The two received an ovation when they returned to their seats later in the game. It was reminiscent of the Just Stop Oil protests on Court 18 at Wimbledon last summer.

Coco Gauff’s US Open semi-final against Karollna Muchova in September was interrupted for 49 minutes when a climate protestor glued his feet to the floor in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Norrie had beaten No.11 seed Casper Ruud in the third round for his best ever Grand Slam win terms of rankings with a new attacking game style.

Against world No.6 Zverev, he was attempting to beat a top-ten player in a Major for the first time at the seventh attempt. But the 2020 US Open finalist is a class above Ruud – especially his backhand – and he punished Norrie with his lethal passing shots. The British No.1 still won 39 out of the 59 points when he went to the net and hit 56 winners.

Zeverev, who learned at the start of the tournament he will face a May trial for abuse against an ex-partner, reached his 11th Grand Slam quarter-final to overtake the record he had shared with Michael Stich. Boris Becker – with 23 – is the only German male to have reached more. He will face the winner of the match between Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz and Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

The Olympic champion took the first set in 47 minutes when he broke Norrie at 5-5 when the British No.1 hit a forehand into the net on second break point. Norrie had a breakback point in the next game but Zverev hit the line with an inside-out forehand and then took his second set point when another Norrie forehand hit the net on a second serve.

This fourth round tie threatened to end quickly when Zverev broke to lead 3-2 in the second before Norrie won the next three games with the lights-out tennis which beat Rued.

With the German serving at 3-2, Norrie produced three winners, including a backhand cross court winner to draw level at 3-3. After holding, Norrie broke again when Zverev framed a forehand to lead 5-3. He then saved four break points before a dead net cord on a forehand on his second set point drew the match.

Zverev reimposed his authority in the third set and broke to lead 3-1 when another Norrie forehand hit the net. And after Norrie kept his concentration to hold at 2-4 following the protest, Zverev took his fourth set point with a backhand down the line.

In the fourth set, Zverev saved two break points at 0-1 but Norrie struck at 4-5 when he manufactured two more chances, and took the first with a forehand down the line followed by a gorgeous forehand cross court drop volley. The match was all square again.

The British No.1 won his first ever five-set match in the Australian Open against Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri in the second round and now he had to do it again.

Norrie dropped his serve in the opening game of the decider but immediately broke back when Zverev steered a backhand into the net.

With the temperature dropping quickly from the afternoon high of 21 degrees in the early evening, the final set turned into a real slugfest. Norrie served poorly – he was down to 51% of first serves at one point – but saved two breaks points at 3-3.

At 5-5 30-30, Norrie produced a brave forehand drop shot before putting away a volley after the German did a Boris Becker-style on the baseline to force Zverev to serve for a second time to save the match.

In the match tiebreak, the British No.1 missed two forehand drop shots to trail 2-4 before serving only his second double fault to trail 2-6. Zverev had six match points at 9-3 and took the first when Norrie’s sliced forehand hit the net.

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