Cameron Norrie battled his “demons” to gain revenge on Carlos Alcaraz by winning the Rio Open and continue his excellent start to the season.
A breathless final in which Alcaraz battled a leg injury ended with British number one Norrie claiming his fifth ATP Tour title in his third final of 2023 to lift him to 12th in the rankings.
Last week, he lost to the Spanish teenager, who is ranked second in the world, in the Argentina Open decider, making this 5-7 6-4 7-5 victory extra meaningful.
Norrie, whose 18 wins this season are the most on tour, said in an on-court interview broadcast by Amazon Prime Video: “It’s so special to win this one.
“I have lost a couple of finals this year. I had to do it the tough way, I was a set and a break down and I was looking done but I managed to flick a switch and turn it around, so it was a good day.
“I had to battle a lot of demons the last couple weeks, but I managed to just play well in the big moments and that’s what it took.”
Norrie looked in serious trouble at a set and 3-0 down, with his frustration showing, but he won four games in a row as Alcaraz, who missed the Australian Open through injury, sought treatment for a right thigh problem.
With the Spaniard’s fitness issues seeing him adopt a gung-ho approach in the deciding set, there were four breaks of serves in the opening six games before Norrie became the aggressor.
Some fearless hitting, mixed with an array of deft drop shots, saw Alcaraz repeatedly fend off break points in the final part of the set as Norrie searched for a decisive breakthrough.
It eventually came in the 11th game and Norrie served it out with an ace to claim a memorable win and impressive piece of silverware.
Alcaraz was pleased with the way he fought, saying: “Even with the injury and the pain, I could say I’m happy with my performance this whole week and the level that I played in these matches. But of course playing against Norrie is always tough and it’s great to see him win a title.”
Both men are due to compete in the Mexican Open in Acapulco this week.