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Norrie comes of age despite Davis Cup pain

By Eleanor Crooks

Cameron Norrie has been told "the only way is up" after his impressive Davis Cup debut.

The British number three threatened to pull off a second stunning victory over a Spaniard on clay in Marbella but fell agonisingly short yesterday.

His four-set defeat to fellow left-hander Albert Ramos-Vinolas saw Norrie lose a pair of tie-breaks and fight toe to toe with the world number 21 before eventually being edged out.

Britain lost the tie 3-1 but found a new star in Norrie, a 22-year-old with a cosmopolitan background, having been born to a Welsh mother and Scottish father in South Africa, raised for much of his childhood in New Zealand, and more recently educated in the United States.

Norrie has also spent time living in London, and he has convinced Great Britain captain Leon Smith he can have a big future in tennis.

Britain's point in the match was won on Friday by Norrie with his stunning comeback win over Roberto Bautista Agut.

There was to be no repeat on Sunday as Ramos-Vinolas won 7-6 (7/4) 2-6 7-6 (7/4) 6-2, but Smith said of Norrie: "I'm really, really proud of him.

"If he needs some sort of reference point to how far he can go, he got it this weekend. The only way is up for him."

Norrie, who sits 114th in the world, will aim to bump up his ranking to secure automatic entry to the grand slams, having failed to qualify for the Australian Open last month.

He wrote on Twitter: "Incredible experience this weekend in Spain. Couldn't be more proud of my team. Leaving this tie with a different perspective."

Andy Murray's injury-enforced absence from the British ranks, compounded by Kyle Edmund's own fitness issues, meant few expected Smith's team to return home in triumph. One singles win was more than might have been foreseen, but it was still insufficient as Spain moved through to a quarter-final against Germany.

Britain face a play-off later in September to determine whether they will be back in the World Cup in 2019.

There was high praise for Norrie from team-mate Jamie Murray, who said the newcomer should "be super proud" of his accomplishments.

Smith believes Norrie can leave the British camp in good heart, but knowing he must work on his strength to improve his prospects of more top-level exposure.

"The big thing for him now is he can get a lot physically more powerful so he can get more power in his strokes."

Ramos-Vinolas, who called the match "the most special four hours of my career", wrote on Twitter: "Congratulations to Norrie for a great match."

Meanwhile, Ulster's Peter Bothwell had the distinction of serving up Ireland's solitary victory in their Davis Cup clash against Denmark in Copenhagen.

Playing in his sixth Davis Cup rubber, the 22-year-old Hillsborough native provided Ireland with a lifeline when he edged Soren Hess-Olesen on a 5-7 6-1 6-3 margin in Saturday's second singles.

Bothwell displayed particularly outstanding form in the second set when he broke his opponent on three occasions after conjuring a whopping 10 break points during that portion of the contest.

And after the duo were tied at 3-3 in the second set, and with the outcome very much in the balance, the Ulster player demonstrated his tremendous battling qualities by reeling off the next three games to tie the contest at 1-1 after debutant Simon Carr had lost the opening singles to 2012 Wimbledon men's doubles champion Frederik Nielsen on a 6-3 7-6 (7/2) margin.|

But it all came unstuck for Conor Niland's side yesterday with the home side pulling away to record a 4-1 overall victory, and ensure that Ireland now face a relegation play-off against Norway on April 7-8.

Belfast Telegraph

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