September 1, 2020
Cameron Norrie caused a significant upset and Kyle Edmund booked a showdown with Novak Djokovic.
It’s fair to say the battle-hardened Brits relished the fight on the first day at the US Open.
And maybe they have Jamie Murray to thank for some of that positive aggression.
The Battle of the Brits in London this summer helped to sharpen the competitive instincts of our best players.
But few would have backed Norrie to beat the ninth seed, Diego Schwartzman.
Particularly after the South American led by two sets.
Norrie kept plugging away. He refused to give in – even when he faced two match points.
You could see Schwartzman running out of steam. If Norrie could just keep rallies alive until the favourite’s batteries were well and truly spent, he knew he might yet come through.
So it proved for the world number 76. He triumphed 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 in a match where holding serve seemed like an elusive rarity.
Fifty-eight break points were a US Open record. They didn’t say much for Norrie’s serve. But they spoke volumes about his return and determination.
Cameron admitted later: ‘I’m pretty tired. The tennis level from me wasn’t that great but I had a pretty good attitude and was fortunate to sneak through. It was a tough one.
‘The British guys were watching and Schwartzman was getting a little bit upset at them cheering me. It was good to get over the line.’
Again, that camaraderie was forged at the Battle of the Brits earlier this summer.
Kyle Edmund was there. And he enjoyed a successful first day at Flushing Meadows too.
The Yorkshireman defeated Alexander Bublik 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-0.
These are positive times for British tennis. Players are urging one another to greater heights.
Don’t be surprised if several Brits shine at Wimbledon 2021.
Sure, we all love Andy Murray and we’re counting on the Scot to do best of all.
That would cause joyful uproar on Centre Court, especially after a year’s absence from the grand old home of tennis.
But Murray isn’t the only show in town. Edmund is an Australian Open semi-finalist and he can scare anyone on his day.
Now Kyle faces the biggest tennis test of them all in New York. He plays the mighty Djokovic, who breezed past the Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-4, 6-1.
Edmund has beaten Djokovic before – at the Madrid Open two years ago.
So he knows he isn’t playing someone superhuman. But Kyle also knows he is up against it.
Edmund explained: ‘It’s a match for me that I’ve got nothing to lose. I have experience of beating him but he has also beaten me a bunch of times. He’s a top player and the type of player who is tough to break down.’
Another Wimbledon favourite, Coco Gauff was knocked out of a Grand Slam in the first round for the very first time.
Anastasija Sevastova threw many a tantrum but still thwarted a typical Coco comeback to triumph 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
No doubt Coco will go back to the drawing board and work harder on her forehand and serve.
If you know Coco, you can feel confident she’ll be back to her best in good time for Wimbledon 2021.
She loves Wimbledon. She feels at home there and calls it ‘one big garden.’
Coco is also lifted by the Wimbledon crowds who love her so much.
So it may have been tough for Gauff in New York.
But London and Wimbledon 2021 next summer will be a different matter entirely.