Cameron Norrie produced a stunning performance to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas as Great Britain defeated Greece on the opening day of the Hopman Cup.
Norrie defeated the world number 14 in straight sets, before partnering with Katie Boulter in the deciding doubles rubber to pull off the upset in Australia. Britain will next face Switzerland, whose team is made up of Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic, tomorrow.
Norrie gives Britain the perfect start
Few will have given Britain much hope before the start of play, but Norrie held his nerve in the opening set to force his Greek opponent into a tie-break. With no break points for either player, the tie-break went to serve until Norrie got the first mini break for a 5-3 lead.
However, Tsitsipas broke back and saved a set point to level the tie-break at 6-6. And after each player saved another set point each, it was Norrie that got the crucial mini break as he served out the set to take it 10-8.
Norrie got off to a nervous start in the second set as Tsitsipas started to show his quality, racing into a 2-0 lead. However, a sequence of three successive breaks of serve followed as Norrie started to pile on the pressure. And after holding to love to lead 5-4, Norrie broke his opponent’s serve for the third time to win the opening rubber 7-6 6-4.
Tsitsipas admitted to struggling in the conditions in Australia, stating that it was very different to the heat he trained in during his pre-season camp in Dubai. Norrie, who arrived in Australia last week to attend his cousin’s wedding, admitted that his early arrival allowed his to adjust to the climate.
Boulter shows fight in singles loss
The second rubber of the day saw Katie Boulter lose a three-set thriller 0-6 6-4 2-6 to top 50 player Maria Sakkari.
Knowing a win would seal victory for Great Britain, Boulter got off to a nightmare start, losing the opening set in just 28 minutes. However, the Brit rallied and, after breaking her higher-ranked opponent in the fifth game, went on to serve out the second set.
Sakkari’s quality once again shone through in the deciding set, breaking the Brit’s serve early on before taking the match as Boulter served to stay in the tie.
While she didn’t get the result she wanted, Boulter showed that she is ready to compete with WTA tour regulars in what could be another very promising season for the Brit.
Doubles delight sees Britain clinch opening tie
Victory for Sakkari set up a thrilling finale in the doubles rubber, as both teams looked to earn an opening day victory. And it was the British pair that looked the more settled early on, forcing their opponents to save three break points before taking the opening set to a tie-break.
The Hopman Cup’s format sees tie-breaks when the set is tied at 3-3, with a first to five breaker and no need for a two-point lead. Norrie and Boulter powered their way through the tie-break, taking it 5-0, as they won the opening set 4-3. However, the Brits stumbled in the second set, trailing 3-0, before fighting back to force another tie-break.
This time, the Greek pair came out on top and stormed through the final set to lead 3-0. However, Boulter and Norrie showed their determination and recovered to take the final set to another tie-break, fitting to the match. And after a number of mini breaks, it was the Brits that came out on top as Tsitsipas netted a backhand to give Britain the victory 4-3(0) 3-4(2) 4-3(4).
After the match, Maria Sakkari admitted she didn’t know the match had finished, not realising the match had gone to a deciding point at 4-4 in the tie-break. The confusion was also felt by some fans, but as we all get used to the new format, we can expect to see much more drama and excitement as the tournament progresses.
Norrie and Boulter next face Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic in another mouth-watering tie tomorrow evening.