Challenger Q&A: Norrie Reacts To Stunning Win In Binghamton
It was one of the more incredible comebacks of the year on the ATP Challenger Tour. Jordan Thompson had one hand on the trophy at the Levene Gouldin & Thompson Tennis Challenger, but Cameron Norrie pried it away from the Aussie in dramatic fashion.
The 21-year-old Brit, at No. 221 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, stormed back from a 1-4 0/30 deciding-set deficit to upset top seed and 86th-ranked Jordan Thompson for his first Challenger crown. Norrie, who would take the match 6-4, 0-6, 6-4, had dropped five consecutive service games in the second and third sets. A double fault put him to within two points of falling behind 5-1 in the decider. But the former Texas Christian University standout exhibited his great resilience, reeling off five straight games to take the title.
Norrie is the third player from Great Britain to win the Binghamton title, joining 2005 champ Andy Murray and 2015 titlist Kyle Edmund. The win also moves to the nation to 4-0 in Challenger finals this year, with Aljaz Bedene earning three titles from three finals.
Norrie, who rises 76 spots to a career-high No. 199 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, spoke about his breakthrough week...
You got broken five straight games and were down 1-4 0/30. Where's your head at that moment?
I was completely down on myself. I turned to my coach Facu (Facundo Lugones) and was thinking that I just couldn't do it. He quickly told me to fight and dig deep. Treat it like another college tennis match. I've had so many tight matches in college where I've fought back. I tried to get my serve in and absolutely battle. I felt like there was no one mentally tougher than me this week. At 4-1 down, I started putting a little more spin on my first serve and it fell in. I was serving better and better and found a lot more confidence from that. I was winning the longer rallies and managed to get over the line. I'm really, really happy to get my first title.
He was trying to pull you off the court with his cross-court backhand and it was hard for you to find a rhythm. It looked like you were able to control more points as the third set went on. What changed?
I felt like he stepped off the gas a little bit and I just stayed tough and waited for my moments. It was similar to my match on Saturday against Christian [Harrison]. I waited for the right balls and used my inside-out forehand really well at the end to keep him moving. All credit to him for playing a great match, but I'm really pleased with how I was mentally after getting broken those five straight games.
Heck of a finishing point too. [33-shot rally on match point]
Yeah, I was pretty tired and he dropped a couple balls short. I stepped in a little bit and managed to pull the trigger on the last one (a forehand winner down the line) and hit my spot where I wanted to hit it. I've been working countless hours with my coaches Devin and Facu on that ball. That is, to aim short a little bit. He calls it 'the swirler'. That's what happened on that last ball. It's just a really great feeling to win the title this week and I don't think I've ever felt like that.
On top of that, you're into the Top 200 and the US Open qualifying. That has to be a load off your mind.
I'm so pumped for that. I got some messages from some coaches and one [Mark Hilton] said to me to not be satisfied yet. It's just a great opportunity and I had everything to gain today. I'm really happy and looking forward to the US Open.
You've had the opportunity to train with Andy Murray. What have you learned from him?
I've watched Murray this summer and he's an absolute beast. He doesn't waste a point and doesn't waste a ball. He's 100 per cent all the time. I had one really good practice with him at Wimbledon, right before Eastbourne, and you can learn a lot from his professionalism and mentality to always get better.
And look at Jordan Thompson this week. He wasn't playing his best tennis, but he's just so mentally tough and he competes like an animal. That's what my coach Facu said to me this week. Jordan is going to be mentally tough, but you need to be tougher than him. Thommo and Andy are two great role models.
It's a quick turnaround going to Lexington, but how do you celebrate this?
My coach and I are going to New York City for the night and maybe go out to dinner. I fly from LaGuardia Airport to Lexington on Monday. It will be nice to spend the night there and take it easy.
In tennis, you have to back up great results so I'll be all in, in Lexington. I'll try to keep the momentum going.