Sunday, October 8, 2017

Norrie overcomes wind, King for second straight title

Cameron Norrie, left, defeated Darian King 6-1, 6-3 today to win
the $100,000 Stockton Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
   STOCKTON, Calif. -- When Cameron Norrie was asked Friday what his greatest strength is, he mentioned his two-handed backhand and mental toughness.
   The latter was critical today as the wind, which plagued the $100,000 Stockton Challenger early in the week, returned with a vengeance.
   Making the best of the situation, the eighth-seeded Norrie routed sixth-seeded Darian King 6-1, 6-3 in 68 minutes at the University of the Pacific's Eve Zimmerman Tennis Center for his second title in two weeks.
   "I feel like I'm a rock mentally," trumpeted Norrie, a 22-year-old left-hander from Great Britain. "I knew it would be tough in the wind, and I don't want to complain about it, so I think I used it to my advantage. It definitely does favor the person that's mentally tougher."
   Norrie, who pocketed $14,400, won his third Challenger singles title since turning pro in May after his junior year at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. He has played in three consecutive finals, winning 14 of 15 matches, since losing to eventual semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round of the U.S. Open as a qualifier.
   But Norrie, the champion in last week's $100,000 Tiburon Challenger, will not try to match Sam Querrey's 2014 feat of sweeping the three-week Northern California swing. Norrie withdrew from next week's $100,000 Fairfield Challenger at Solano Community College with a left shoulder strain.
   Today, Norrie won the first five games and the last four.
   "I think I played very smart at the start," said Norrie, who improved to 2-0 against King. "I played pretty safe, and I was winning a lot of the longer rallies. I used my drop shot pretty well today into the wind. He was standing pretty far back, so it was pretty effective for me. I'm playing great tennis."
   Norrie showed no signs of frustration during the match. King, in contrast, at various times muttered to himself, shook his head, put his hands on his hips, threw up his arms, almost slammed his racket on the court and, on a changeover, struck his racket bag with his racket. Of course, it's a lot easier to stay composed when you're winning.
   "It was my first time playing a left-hander the whole week," moianed the 25-year-old King of Barbados, a small Caribbean island nation with a population of only 292,000. "Obviously, he handled (the wind) much better. Obviously, it's tough playing a left-hander in these conditions.
   "I had better chances in the second set. He was coming to the net and made some great passing shots at the right time, and I messed up a volley or two because of the conditions. That's how tennis goes. It's mental, and you have to try to adapt to all the circumstances."
Joe Salisbury, left, and Brydan Klein won the Stockton
doubles title. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Norrie, who was born in South Africa and grew up in New Zealand, will jump 25 more places to No. 111 in Monday's updated rankings. But he's not concerned about cracking the top 100 for the first time and gaining direct entry into the Australian Open in January.
   "No, not at all," he said. "I'm just trying to get better every day. I don't really have any ranking goals. Me and my coach, Facu (Facundo Lugones), are just going to keep working every day. If I get top 100, if I get top 60, it doesn't really make a difference as long as I'm getting better."
   King, who collected $8,480, will improve from No. 207 to No. 181. He reached a career-high No. 106 last year in May and later won Tiburon.
   Norrie completed a British sweep of the Stockton titles. In the doubles final, fourth-seeded Brydan Klein and Joe Salisbury beat qualifiers Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va., and Tampa, Fla., and Mikelis Libietis of Latvia 6-2, 6-4. Klein, a 27-year-old Australia native who plays for Great Britain, and Salisbury, 25, split $6,200.
   Here are the completed Stockton singles and doubles draws.
   Here are the Fairfield singles qualifying draw, singles and doubles main draws and Monday's schedule.

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