Cameron Norrie’s best run at the US Open ended in disappointment as a straight-sets defeat to Andrey Rublev saw the British No 1 miss out on a quarter-final place.
Norrie was looking to build on reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals earlier this year, but the No 9 seed was unable to find his usual consistency as Rublev overcame a late blip to win 6-4 6-4 6-4 on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Norrie, who was the final British player remaining in either the men’s or women’s singles draws, has become renowned for his relentless grinding tennis, but produced an error-strewn display.
“I felt like I started the match very well, very relaxed and playing good, serving well,” Norrie said. “I felt maybe a little bit too relaxed and too low on energy. I don’t know why.
“I went through a stage in the second set, I wasn’t hitting my backhand, I was missing a lot. Errors on my backhand side was not like myself. I usually can rely on that side.”
Norrie vs Rublev: Match Stats
|78%||1st serve win percentage||79%|
|37%||2nd serve win percentage||55%|
|1/2||Break points won||4/8|
|78||Total points won||97|
Rublev is into the last eight in New York for the third time in his career, and will next face Rafael Nadal or Frances Tiafoe, who play later on Monday.
“It was tough, especially because we’ve know each other a long time,” Rublev said. “Last time he beat me, so of course I was coming on court knowing that I need to give my best and play really well.
“I think for today I played a good match and Cameron maybe was a bit tired, because in some moments he helped me.”
The first set was decided by small margins, as Norrie pushed Rublev to deuce for the first time when leading 4-3, before the Russian held and then took advantage of a drop in concentration by his opponent to break and seal the chance to serve for the opening set.
Rublev displayed some nerves with a double fault but Norrie let him off the hook with a missed second-serve return at 30-30, and the Russian took full advantage to send down an ace to seal the set.
Norrie staved off a break in the opening game of the second set, but came unstuck the next time he served, largely gifting Rublev the advantage with a series of missed groundstrokes.
The Brit’s grit was on show as he responded by bringing up his first break points of the match, but Rublev was able to produce a solid point to remain in front, before a brilliant forehand passing shot denied Norrie another chance to level.
With Rublev leading the second set 3-2, dark clouds gathered above the court and drizzle began to fall. A strange decision was made not to initially close the roof, which meant when heavy rain fell soon after, the court was soaked and a 20-minute delay ensued as it needed drying after the roof was eventually shut.
Rublev showed no rust when play resumed, and charged towards a two-set lead. There was a minor blip as Norrie went up 0-30 while Rublev attempted to seal the set, but a series of big serves saw off the danger.
The Russian displayed urgency as he won each of his opening service games to love, before taking advantage of the growing pressure on Norrie to break for a 3-2 lead.
There then appeared to be a turning point, as the usually calm Norrie smashed his racket after missing yet another backhand. The rare show of anger appeared to help, as he immediately played three brilliant points to break Rublev for the first time and level at 3-3.
Of the racket smash, Norrie said: “Obviously it’s not ideal to be breaking rackets. I very rarely do it. I was able to kind of snap and change my energy and really lift after that.
“But, whenever I had the momentum, I didn’t kind of stick with what I was doing for long enough, which is disappointing.”
The crowd got right behind Norrie as he held for a 4-3 lead, with Rublev this time losing his cool and whacking the ball into the net after a smash from the Brit dropped in from a dead net cord.
However, that was as good as it got for Norrie. Like his opponent, Rublev’s show of frustration appeared to free him up, and he held to love before breaking with a brilliant cross-court backhand passing shot.
There were no nerves this time around, as Rublev comfortably served out to seal victory in two hours and 26 minutes.
Norrie must turn his thoughts to leading Britain’s Davis Cup team in Glasgow next week.
Leon Smith’s side take on the USA, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands bidding for a place in the final eight in Malaga at the end of the season.
Norrie said: “I’m really excited for the Davis Cup and back with crowds and to be playing in the team that we have with so much experience. It’s going to be the first time for me on the team with Andy (Murray) so I’m really looking forward to that.”
The 27-year-old is also hoping for a late call-up to the Laver Cup in London the following week, while his main goal for the rest of the season is to make the ATP Finals in Turin.
Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/tennis, our Twitter account @skysportstennis & Sky Sports – on the go! Available to download now on – iPhone & iPad and Android