AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Cameron Norrie will play in the final of the ASB Classic for the second time in four years after beating American Jenson Brooksby 6-3, 6-4 in a semifinal Friday.
Norrie also was a finalist in 2019 when he lost the championship match to American Tennys Sandgren.
He hasn’t been able to return to New Zealand since because of pandemic travel restrictions and he has shown a determination to go one better than last time and win his “home” tournament.
Norrie was born in South Africa but raised in Auckland where as a young spectator at the Classic he formed a desire to become a professional tennis player. He realized that ambition when his family later moved to Britain.
The 12th-ranked Norrie came into the Auckland tournament with form after beating Rafael Nadal at the United Cup in Australia and carried that through the tournament, beating Jiri Lehecka and Marcos Giron in three-setters on the way to the semifinal.
Brooksby won his first serve to love, then often was under pressure to hold. He held for 2-2 in the first set after the longest game of the match in which Norrie had four break points. Norrie then broke to lead 4-2 and held to take the first set in 48 minutes.
Norrie found himself under pressure at the start of the second set when he dropped serve in his first service game.
He immediately broke back and broke again to lead 4-3. Norrie had his first match point at 5-4 on Brooksby’s serve and needed two more match points on his own serve before he clinched the match after 98 minutes.
Right-handed Brooksby fell heavily on his left wrist during the second set and needed a timeout while the wrist was strapped.
“It was 6-3, 6-4 but it was an absolute battle,” Norrie said. “A lot of long rallies. He puts the ball in such awkward parts of the court and I had to come up with a lot of very tough shots on the run and a lot of big passes.
“I was able to hold onto my serve there at the end and I hope he’s OK.”
Norrie’s final opponent on Saturday will be French veteran Richard Gasquet, who advanced to the final when compatriot Constant Lestienne withdrew from their semifinal with a pectoral muscle injury.
The 36-year-old Gasquet is ranked 67, after reaching a career-best of No. 7 in 2009.
“He’s a really solid player,” Norrie said. “I’m going to have to run a lot to beat him. He plays really physical tennis and he’s got a complete game.”
Gasquet will be seeking his 16th career title, Norrie his ninth
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