Norrie shocks Schwartzman to claim greatest career win
Briton saves match points to stun ninth seed in five-set epic Preparation reaps rewards as Argentine is hit by cramp
British No3 Cameron Norrie pulled off comfortably his greatest win at a major when he ambushed Diego Schwartzman in a bizarre and topsy-turvy epic, fighting back from two sets down and saving a couple of match points into the bargain.
The match set a US Open record – though not one that Norrie seemed especially pleased with – by racking up 58 break points, which works out at more than one per game. Such a statistic was hardly what we had expected from the fast and server-friendly Laykold surface. During last week’s Western and Southern Open, these courts threw up more aces than the Battle of Britain.
But then with the 5ft 7in Schwartzman often popping down his first serve at less than 100mph, before attacking fiercely in his return games, the traditional rules of engagement proved irrelevant. As the match built to a dramatic conclusion, in which Norrie’s recent outings at British exhibition events surely gave him an advantage, the lack of fans on Court Five seemed all the more peculiar.
Despite some fine moments on the regular tour, Norrie had never really put it all together at a slam before, perhaps struggling with the extra pressure that comes with these marquee events. His only previous win over a top-100 player had come against Peter Gojowczyk at the French Open in 2018 – and even then the German retired with an injury in the second set.
Schwartzman, though, is the ninth seed here and the world No13. By beating him, Norrie earned himself a crack at a less celebrated name – Federico Coria. The world No 103 from Argentina sneaked through when his first-round opponent retired early in the fifth set.
Usually, by the time the players show up for the US Open, they are running on fumes after a backbreaking year-long workload. On this occasion, they are suffering from the opposite problem: a lack of matches under the belt, which makes them vulnerable to cramp or worse when play goes into a third or even fourth hour. In Norrie’s case, it took him 3hr 59min to complete the win.
“Cam looked strong right up till the end,” said Judy Murray, who was commentating on BBC Radio Five Live. “Schwartzman had the chance to close it out, but he was really struggling with cramp and
Digging deep: Cameron Norrie (right) hits a return to Argentine Diego Schwartzman (above) during a gruelling contest you could tell from the way he was walking with the straight legs and he was getting no power on his serve – not pushing up at all. I said there would be upsets and a lot of injuries at this US Open – cramping is going to happen a lot.”
Norrie’s main feeling, as he came off the court, looked to be one of relief. “For me the tennis and the level wasn’t that great,” he told Amazon Prime. “But I had a really good attitude throughout. I was lucky to get through that one, saved a couple of match points at the end. It was a tough one.
“It was really nice to have Jamie [Murray] and Dom [Inglot] and all the British guys up there watching. Schwartzman was getting a little bit upset at them cheering, but it was good to have that support. I think the whole Battle of the Brits thing, everyone was getting around that, so I think that helps a lot.”
Murray’s efforts in staging two exhibition events at the National Tennis Centre can be said to have helped in this match. Both incarnations of the Battle of the Brits were as feisty and competitive as unofficial contests can be, and those sorts of pressure moments are hard to replicate on the practice court.
Later, 16-year-old sensation Coco Gauff was eliminated by 31st seed Anastasia Sevastova 6-3, 5-7, 6-4. The defeat, which was not always pretty to watch, offered a reminder that Gauff needs to add more solidity to her flair.