Cameron Norrie can’t explain Australian Open’s crushing first-round exit

Cameron Norrie has been left searching for answers after a disheartening loss to Sebastian Korda in the first round of the Australian Open.

The young American is one of the game’s rising stars and it was a very tricky draw for the British number one, but a 6-3 6-0 6-4 scoreline left no room to find the positives.

“I think this might be my worst game in about eight months,” said the 12th seed. “I had a week off to prepare, prepared as best I could, and just that I was slow, I was missing routine setbacks, which I never miss.

“Honestly, I can’t put my finger on it. I just need to get better and better. Lots to work on. Korda was too good today. Every time I had the opportunity to come back, he got away with it. And on the biggest points, he was much better than me.

“I didn’t play well in a big point today. That’s part of it and it’s just a disappointing way to start the year with this game.

Both men recently tested positive for Covid-19 – Norrie in December and Korda when they arrived in Australia.

But the American, son of former Melbourne champion Petr, was sharp from the start while Norrie immediately found himself in an uphill battle and never recovered.

The 26-year-old has had a phenomenal 2021, unexpectedly climbing to the edge of the top 10 and winning one of the biggest titles on the ATP Tour in Indian Wells.

His success was based on a relentless physical and mental approach, but there were signs in the Davis Cup final in late November that his efforts had taken their toll and there was little time to recover.

He insisted there were no mitigating factors, however, saying: “I’ve played a lot of games but that’s what we get paid for and it’s just not good enough.

“For the past year and a half, I’ve been playing very well on the big points, in the big moments and I’ve been very fast on the pitch. Today, I didn’t do any of that.

Sebastian Korda easily beat Cameron Norrie (Andrew Brownbill/AP)

He lost three games against high-quality opponents at the ATP Cup to start the season and couldn’t disturb Korda, who played in the fourth round at Wimbledon last summer, at the new Kia Arena in Melbourne Park.

The 21-year-old is one of the new generation of 6ft5+ players who move exceptionally well and he pressed Norrie straight away.

Korda broke serve at the start of each set, winning nine straight from the end of the first set to 2-0 in the third, and there was no turning back for Norrie.

The British number one grew up in New Zealand and his family still lives there but, although he plans to take some time off before his next tournament in Rotterdam in three weeks, he will not be crossing the Tasman Sea.

There is a mandatory seven-day hotel quarantine for all arrivals in New Zealand, and Norrie said: ‘It’s difficult. It would be nice to see them. I missed them very much. The last time I saw them was for the very first confinement, so a year and a half. Hope they come for the UK summer.

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