Cameron Norrie outlasts Constant Lestienne in early hours to reach third round

Australian Open Credit: Alamy
Australian Open Credit: Alamy

 

Cameron Norrie toiled away into the early hours of the morning to defeat Constant Lestienne and reach the third round of the Australian Open.

Persistent rain in Melbourne meant the match, which was last on the schedule, did not begin until 10pm local time having been moved to an outside court.

There were a few more brief stops for drizzle, disruption by rowdy spectators and plenty of twists and turns before Norrie finally wrapped up a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (2) 6-3 victory over his unseeded French opponent at 1.28am.

A handful of fans, some wrapped in blankets to keep out the unseasonal chill, stayed to the end as Norrie moved through to a third-round clash with talented young Czech Jiri Lehecka.

The late night meant a tricky few hours for the umpire, who sent three English spectators, beer cans in hand, from the court after abusing Norrie at the end of the first set and also told a fan off for loudly swearing during the fourth.

Lestienne’s story is one of persistence, the 30-year-old Frenchman making his main draw debut at a grand slam after falling in qualifying 21 times.

He drove Norrie to distraction with his unconventional use of slice and trick shots, which included an attempted lob played through his legs when down set point in the opener.

The British number one smashed that one away but things became complicated in the second and he looked in real trouble when down 5-2 in the third.

But Norrie, seeded 11, has toughed out so many matches over the past two years and he fought his way back, winning the set on a tie-break, before finally overcoming Lestienne and his own frustration in the fourth.

Norrie thanked the crowd after the game, taking to Instagram to write: “Night shift. Cheers to everyone for staying and creating an amazing atmosphere all the way to the end! 3rd round bound (sic).”

Norrie’s best performance at a grand slam came at Wimbledon last year, where he reached the semi-finals before losing to Novak Djokovic over the course of four sets.

This is already his joint-best performance at the Australian Open, as he previously made the third round of the tournament for the first time in 2021. The Johannesburg-born 27-year-old will hope that his stock continues to rise after a breakthrough year in 2022.

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