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Norrie outlasts struggling Alcaraz for Rio de Janeiro title

For the fourth time on the ATP Tour since the start of the 2011 season, the same two players went head-to-head in two finals in the span of two weeks.

After beating Cameron Norrie 6-3, 7-5 to lift the Buenos Aires trophy last weekend, Carlos Alcaraz was on the verge of going back-to-back in Rio de Janeiro–in terms of both defeating Norrie and also defending his 2022 Rio Open title. But Norrie had other ideas. The world No. 13 battle back from a set and a break deficit to stun Alcaraz 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 following a two-hour and 41-minute roller-coaster ride.

Alcaraz led by a set, by 3-0 in the second, and had 0-30 on Norrie’s serve to go up 4-0. After Norrie ended up holding for 1-3, however, everything changed. The British left-hander used that momentum to steal the second set, at which point Alcaraz began to struggle significantly with a left thigh injury. Despite his physical ailments, the 19-year-old Spaniard still managed to lead by an early break in the third and eventually come back from a break late in the set. After Norrie seized another break to pull ahead 5-4, though, he finally closed it out on serve.

“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.”

The previous three instances dating back to January 2011 of back-to-back finals in back-to-back weeks between the same players were Rafael Nadal vs. David Ferrer in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona (2011), Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic in Madrid and Rome (2011), and Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray also in Madrid and Rome (2016).

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.