An inspiring Cameron Norrie just missed out on his fifth ATP Tour title in his hometown of Auckland.
Norry, who grew up in New Zealand before moving to London as a teenager, is hoping to extend his winning start to the season to seven games, taking the opening set against veteran Richard Gasquet at the ASB Classic.
Gasquet fought back to level the score, but Norry looked for a 4-1 win in the final match, but the French opponents turned back the years in a moving finale to 4-6. 6-4 6-4 victory.
Notable is the title since 2018 for the 36-year-old who made his tour debut 20 years ago.
For Norrie, who held back tears during the on-court interview, it was a bitter pill to swallow. I wanted it really badly.
“But all credit to Richard, you stayed there and played better than I did. You definitely deserved it today.
“I had a great week coming to Oakland, the tournament I grew up in. I have a lot of friends and family here and they all support me.
“I really wanted to win the title.
Norrie has now arrived in Melbourne and faces a tough turnaround as he prepares to face the younger Frenchman, 18-year-old Luca Van Assche, in the first round at the Australian Open on Monday.
But the British number one is aiming for another strong Grand Slam run, so it can take solace in knowing he’s in good shape.