Judging by his smile on Saturday evening in Los Cabos, Cameron Norrie’s first ATP Tour title was worth the wait.
Norrie walked on Grandstand Caliente with an 0-4 record in tour-level finals, three of which came earlier this year. It was only fitting that the former Texas Christian University star needed four championship points to clinch his victory.
But after one hour and 23 minutes, behind calculated, consistent tennis, Norrie finally earned his maiden moment and beat first-time finalist Nakashima. The 19-year-old, who began the week with just three tour-level wins, rode his attacking game to the final, but it was not enough to take down Norrie.
The lefty is enjoying the best season of his career, and with his 35th win of 2021 (35-14), he is now tied for the third-most victories on Tour this season with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic (35-1). Norrie lost a total of 10 games in his final three matches to complete his impressive run at this ATP 250 in Mexico.
Norrie put the American in awkward positions throughout the match and gave the aggressive teen few easy balls to work with. The top seed peppered Nakashima with deep shots down the middle, and forced him to go for too much, leading to plenty of unforced errors.
Norrie appeared in full control when he led by a set and a break, but he relinquished his second-set advantage by playing too conservatively. Instead of letting the pressure of the moment get to him, the Briton immediately refocussed and closed out his title on his fourth championship point when the teen missed a forehand into the net.
Nakashima was trying to become the youngest American ATP Tour titlist since 19-year-old Andy Roddick lifted the Houston trophy in 2002. The last American to triumph at tour-level outside of the United States was 19-year-old Michael Chang in Birmingham in 1991.
“Congrats to Cam on your first ATP title,” Nakashima said during the trophy ceremony. “All the fans, thank you so much for cheering me on this whole week. It really made playing out here really special and fun for me. I really appreciate all your support.”