Britain’s No.1 Cameron Norrie was hoping to reach the last 16 at the Australian Open for the first time in his career, only to fall in round three to a player he had beaten in Auckland last week.
I can't really put my finger on why I wasn't at my best, he played better than me and better in the bigger moments Cameron Norrie
Norrie, the 11th seed, having established a two set to one lead, then lost 6-7(8) 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-4 to the Czech youngster Jiri Lehecka, ranked 71 in the world.
The Brit took a medical timeout for treatment to his left knee early in the fifth but explained later it was more a precautionary thing rather than a serious injury.
Lehecka is certainly a player with a great future as he possesses a big serve and forehand which he used to great effect in the first set, forcing Norrie to save three break points, and then failed to convert set points when leading 6-4 lead in the tie-break.
Norrie showed his competitive spirit by saving those three set points, the first with a fine pass down the line, and then clinched the set at his second opportunity.
But the 27-year-old was not playing well, missing time and again with his forehand, and Lehecka held on to an early break to claim the second set.
Norrie appeared to have found his range in the third, making only six unforced errors compared to 27 in the first two sets, but the momentum switched around again at the start of the fourth and, when he dropped serve again in the first game of the decider, he called the trainer to have his left knee taped up.
Norrie fought hard to try to find a way back after going a double break down, but he was unable to conjure the same magic as Andy Murray and Lehecka served the match out to love for one of the biggest moment of his young career.
“I can’t really put my finger on why I wasn’t at my best, he played better than me and better in the bigger moments,” Norrie conceded.
“The knee did not affect the outcome of the match – it was a small niggle and I wanted to check it was nothing serious.”
Lehecka goes on to play Canadian sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round on Sunday.
“I felt that I could beat him,” the youngster said.
“The only thing I learned from that match [in Auckland] was to never give up and fight for every ball.”
Meanwhile a disappointed Norrie was left to review his loss.
“Maybe I peaked a bit too early (in Auckland) and couldn’t keep the momentum up but I gave myself the best preparation possible,” he said.
“I felt great arriving in Melbourne and it was perfect preparation.
“I played a lot of matches and I really enjoyed playing in Auckland – it was very special for me. I don’t regret anyhing.”