Cameron Norrie was given a late-night scare by Constant Lestienne at the Australian Open on Wednesday, but the 11th seed showed nerves of steel to rally to victory against the free-hitting Frenchman and secure a third-round spot.
After the pair split the first two sets on Court 13, Lestienne delivered some classy all-court tennis to forge a 4-1 lead in the third set. In typical fashion, however, Great Britain’s Norrie stuck doggedly with his opponent to engineer a turnaround, ultimately sealing a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 in a three-hour, 13-minute clash that finished well after 1 a.m. local time.
The 27-year-old Norrie, who reached the final in Auckland last week, struck 58 winners including 17 aces to improve his ATP Head2Head series lead against Lestienne to 2-0. Despite the defeat, Lestienne will take confidence from his Grand Slam debut this week in Melbourne, where he defeated Thiago Monteiro before posing plenty of problems to a four-time tour-level champion.
Now into the Australian Open third round for the second time, Norrie will next take on 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals finalist Jiri Lehecka. The 21-year-old Czech downed American wild card Christopher Eubanks 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to seal his maiden appearance in the third round of a major.
The 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz was also made to work for his third-round berth on Wednesday, when the Pole rallied to a 3-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win against the dangerous Lorenzo Sonego.
Hurkacz came into the match trailing the Italian 1-3 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series and was under severe pressure after dropping the third set on Court 3. Yet he found a way to break Sonego four times across the final two sets for a hard-earned three-hour, 53-minute triumph.
“Definitely it was a battle today with Lorenzo,” said Hurkacz after reaching the third round in Melbourne for the first time. “You know, we always kind of have close matches. Today definitely, a little bit stealing that second set helped me to gain a little momentum. Obviously then Lorenzo played a good third set, but from then on I knew what I needed to do in order to put myself ahead.”
Hurkacz’s victory set a third-round meeting with 20th seed Denis Shapovalov after the 2022 quarter-finalist enjoyed a straightforward 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-5 victory against Taro Daniel.