Norrie stuns Nadal as Britain lead Spain 2-0 in United Cup

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Rafa Nadal’s preparations for his Australian Open title defence got off to a wobbly start as Cameron Norrie handed him a 3-6 6-3 6-4 defeat in the United Cup on Saturday as Britain took a 2-0 lead over Spain in the mixed team tournament.

The 22-times Grand Slam champion, who lifted the trophy in Melbourne Park this year and added another French Open title in an otherwise injury-ravaged season, eased through the first set but gifted Norrie a way back into the contest in the next.

Nadal dug himself out of a hole with an ace to hold for 2-1 in the decider but surrendered his serve shortly after as world number 14 Norrie got sharper as the contest wore on and held on for his first win over the world number two in five attempts.

“It was pretty crazy… I was thinking I’ve never won a set against him before and I wanted to come out and firstly do that and I had to stay super patient,” Norrie said in his on-court interview. “It was a super physical match.

“I really enjoyed it, it was huge to get through that one and finally beat him. It’s a great way to end the year.”

Norrie credited his pre-season training for being able to dictate the baseline exchanges at Ken Rose-wall Arena.

“I’ve had a really good off season, played a lot of matches and it’s been good for me. I felt like I was finding really good depth in my shots and dictated the play… I wasn’t letting him do too much damage with his forehand,” Norrie added.

Meanwhile, Rafa Nadal brushed off talk of retiring anytime soon after the 22-times Grand Slam cham-pion was stunned by Cameron Norrie in the United Cup mixed team tournament on Saturday, saying he still enjoyed competing at the highest level.

Nadal’s preparations for his Australian Open title defence got off to a shaky start as Norrie beat him 3-6 6-3 6-4 to seal his first victory over the 36-year-old Spaniard in their fifth career meeting.

Faced with a question on whether defeats at this stage in his career left him more determined to play as long as he could or acknowledge that things were getting difficult, Nadal simply said retirement was not on his mind yet.

“I lost my match. That’s it, no? Every time I come to a press conference it seems that I have to retire. So you are very interested on my retirement. I mean, that, for the moment, isn’t the case,” a smiling Nadal told reporters.

“When the day arrives, I’m going to let you know, guys. Don’t keep going (on) with the retire-ment, because I’m here to keep playing tennis.”

Nadal, whose 2022 season began in complete contrast as he went on a 20-match winning spree, said the early defeat ahead of the new season was not a disaster.

“I can do things better and I need to do it. He played his first match two days ago, that’s an advan-tage, especially if you win the match the way that he did,” Nadal added.

“And then I need to be a little bit faster physi-cally, a little bit more solid, some less mistakes and make better decisions at some points, playing a little bit longer.

“All credit to him that he did a lot of things very well. In my case, I think there’s a way to improve but I have time before the Australian Open starts in two weeks. Either way, we still focus on this com-petition.”—APP