Misc Tennis

Cameron Norrie withdraws from Auckland Classic with wrist injury, Shelton through to semifinals

Storm Sanders was Australia’s hero after she won the first singles rubber before returning for the deciding doubles match alongside 38-year-old Samantha Stosur.

Cameron Norrie of Britain during the United Cup tennis tournament in Perth, Australia, on December 31, 2023.
| Photo Credit: AP

Top-ranked Briton Cameron Norrie faces an injury battle ahead of next week’s Australian Open after withdrawing from the ATP Auckland Open with a wrist injury.

The 19th-ranked Englishman was due to face Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo in a quarterfinal Thursday but moments before the center-court match was to begin, news broke that Norrie would not be able to play.

The injury is to his right wrist and he is expected to have scans to determine its nature and seriousness. Norrie woke Thursday with pain in his wrist, but had still hoped to be fit to play before making the decision to withdraw at the last moment.

Norrie, who is seeded-19th for the Australian Open, has been drawn to play Juan Pablo Varillas of Peru in the first round at Melbourne Park starting Jan. 14.

Auckland-born Norrie is a crowd favorite at the New Zealand tournament and has reached the final in both of the last two years. With only the top two seeds and the sixth seed remaining in this year’s tournament, he seemed on course again to reach the final and a likely meeting with top-seeded American Ben Shelton.

Shelton, ranked-16th, progressed to the semifinals Thursday with a tough 6-4, 6-3 win over Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena who played well above his ranking of 67. Carballes Baena upset two-time champion and Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round.

Shelton had an early service break in the opening set but was broken immediately. The set then went with serve until the 10th game when Shelton broke again.

Shelton was unable to break Carballes Banea until the eighth game of the second set and finally served out the match in 1 hour, 40 minutes. His serve wasn’t as dominant as it was in his opening match and he faced long points against Carballes Baena who chased down every shot.

“He’s definitely one of the faster players I’ve played, running after balls, passing shots,” Shelton said. “He served really well and made it difficult for me today.

“But I felt like I played my best tennis in the big moments and I’m thrilled to be through to the semifinals here.”

Shelton’s opponent in the semifinal will be Japanese-American Taro Daniel who beat French qualifier Alexandre Muller 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3.

Daniel had chances to take the match in the second set but couldn’t close it out against the tenacious Muller. He finally took the match in 2 hours, 39…

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