Alarming injury worry for Carlos Alcaraz as he loses to Cameron Norrie in Rio
Cameron Norrie gained revenge on Carlos Alcaraz by winning the Rio Open and claiming his fifth ATP Tour title, but the final stages of this match saw the Spaniard struggling with what appeared to be a thigh injury.
Alcaraz got the better of Norrie in last week’s Argentina Open final in Buenos Aires, but the British number one hit back in style in Brazil as he took advantage of his opponents injury to take the ATP 500 title.
The sequel was better than the original on the Brazilian clay in a match that had twists and turns throughout.
Norrie looked in trouble as he was a set and a break down but staged an impressive comeback to win 5-7 6-4 6-4.
Alacaraz, who won the 2022 title in Rio, was carrying a thigh injury but was still playing enough high quality tennis for this to be classed as a big scalp for Norrie.
It is a second title on clay for the Brit and first of 2023.
“It’s so special to win this one, I have lost a couple of finals this year,” he said on Prime Video.
“I had to do it the tough way, I was a set and a break down and I was looking done but I managed to flick a switch and turn it around, so it was a good day.”
It was a high-quality first set and Norrie had the chance to break in the fourth game and get the early advantage but Alcaraz held firm and that proved important.
The Briton saved a set point at 4-5 with a searing cross-court forehand, but the Spaniard came back for more in Norrie’s following service game and this time got the break that sealed the first set.
The writing looked on the wall for the British number one as Alcaraz raced into a 3-0 lead in the second set, but that is where things got interesting.
Norrie stopped the rot by holding serve and then went on to win the next three games to claim an unlikely 4-3 lead.
Alcaraz, who missed the Australian Open with a leg injury, was up for the fight and hit back on Norrie’s serve, only for the Brit to win the following two games and take the set 6-4.
It was a topsy-turvy dramatic decider, which swung both ways over 56 enthralling minutes.
With Alcaraz’s fitness problems seeing him adopt a gung-ho approach, there were four breaks of serves in the opening six games before Norrie became the aggressor.
Some fearless hitting, mixed in an array of deft drop shots, which saw Alcaraz repeatedly fend off break points in the final part of the set as Norrie searched for a decisive breakthrough.
It eventually came in the 11th game and Norrie served it out with an ace to claim a memorable win and impressive piece of silverware.
Alcaraz must now be a doubt for upcoming ATP 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, with his coaching team appearing to be in heated dispute with him during the final set.
They appeared to be keen for Alcaraz to pull out of the match to avoid making his injury more serious.
Yet he refused to quit and pushed Norrie all the way before finally running out of steam in the final stages of the match.
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