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Norrie avenges Buenos Aires loss, upsets Alcaraz in Rio de Janeiro final

In their second head-to-head final in as many weeks, Cameron Norrie got the best of Carlos Alcaraz to capture the Rio de Janeiro title on Sunday. Norrie trailed by a set and a break before coming back.

Cameron Norrie and Carlos Alcaraz at the 2023 ATP Rio Open Cameron Norrie and Carlos Alcaraz at the 2023 ATP Rio Open – © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

A wild Rio Open final saw Cameron Norrie come back from the dead to defeat Carlos Alcaraz 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 on Sunday evening. Norrie rallied from a set down and 3-0 down in the second to triumph after two hours and 41 minutes.

It was a rematch of last week’s Buenos Aires championship match, which Alcaraz won 6-3, 7-5. This marked just the fourth time since the start of the 2011 season on the ATP Tour that the same two players faced each other in back-to-back finals in the span of two weeks.

Struggling physically, Alcaraz can’t close it out

For a while it looked like Alcaraz would get the best of Norrie yet again. The 19-year-old powered his way to a 7-5, 3-0 lead and even found himself two points from going ahead 4-0 in the second with his opponent serving at 0-30. However, Norrie battled out of that deficit to hold for 1-3 and that kicked off his comeback. Alcaraz failed to close out the second set and after they went into a third he was not the same from a physical standpoint.

Alcaraz missed the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals and the 2023 Australian Open because of a leg injury, and he dealt with an apparent right hamstring issue in Saturday’s Rio semifinal win over Nicolas Jarry. On Sunday it was the left thigh that seemed to give Alcaraz trouble. The Spaniard did his best to stay with Norrie despite being nowhere near 100 percent physically, but the world No. 13 secured a critical break at 4-4 and then served it out one game later.

“What a match, Charlie”

“What a match, Charlie,” Norrie said during the trophy ceremony. “(It was) another battle. I had to give absolutely everything to beat you today…. The match could have gone either way, but I managed to run a little bit more. It’s an honor to share the court with you again and compete with you.

“(It’s) so special to win this one, especially (because) I’d lost a couple finals already this year and I had to do it the tough way — a set and a break down and 0-30 on my serve, I was looking done there and I managed to flick a switch and turn it around.

“So it was a good day.”

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