Cameron Norrie is unlikely to qualify for the ATP Finals in Turin after he bowed out of the Paris Masters in the third round, losing 6-3, 7-6 (3) to Taylor Fritz of the United States in an intense two-set tussle.
Earlier, Hubert Hurkacz, who sits eighth in the ATP Race to Turin, recovered from a set down to beat Dominik Koepfer 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and reach the quarter-finals in Paris. His victory meant Norrie had to defeat Fritz to maintain a decent chance of qualification, which he was unable to do. Hurkacz can now secure his place in the ATP Finals, and rule Norrie out, if he wins his next match, against Australia’s James Duckworth, the world No 55.
Thursday afternoon’s match on centre court pitted Norrie against another of the most improved players of the year. Fritz, the world No 26, is in the midst of a blinding season-ending run and had dispatched Andrey Rublev, the fifth seed, in straight sets in the previous round. He started in similar form, serving seamlessly before taking advantage of a loose Norrie service game at 3-2 to take charge of the set. Even as Fritz remained in control of the baseline for much of the second set, Norrie was typically tough and he recovered from a 4-4, 0-30 deficit to generate two set points at 5-4, 15-40 on Fritz’s serve.
Throughout the season many players would have buckled against Norrie in such a position, but Fritz saved the first set point with an enormous unreturned serve and then struck a thumping forehand winner on the second. After scuppering Norrie’s biggest opportunities, Fritz’s serve flowed, he dictated once more and he convincingly took the tie‑break to win the match.
Another consequence of Norrie’s defeat is that he misses out on a first career meeting with Novak Djokovic, the world No 1, who will now face Fritz in the quarter-final. Djokovic advanced on Thursday after Gaël Monfils was forced to withdraw from his home tournament with an adductor injury.
Norrie has guaranteed himself one of the two alternate spots in Turin. He is next scheduled to compete at next week’s Stockholm Open but he says that he will wait to see how the results play out in Paris before deciding to also compete there. His only remaining chance of qualifying for the top eight is if Hurkacz loses to Duckworth in Paris, then loses early in Stockholm and Norrie wins the tournament.
“That sounds difficult,” he said. “I gave it my best shot. I mean, it was unfortunate Taylor was too good today. I’ll have to think, but I’m going to go to Turin anyway, I think there are two alternate spots – depends on how everything turns out – but I will be an alternate there and then I will go and get prepared and get ready for Davis Cup.”