Defending champion Norrie out of Rio Open, Baez and Navone to play final

Sebastian Baez of Argentina plays a backhand return to Jannik Sinner of Italy during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. (Andy Wong/AP)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Defending champion Cameron Norrie has been bundled out of the Rio Open with a shock straight sets defeat to qualifier Mariano Navone on Saturday.

The 22-year-old Argentine beat the second-seeded British player 6-4, 6-2 to advance to his first tour-level final where he will play compatriot Sebastián Báez.

Norrie didn’t offer much resistance to the 113th-ranked Navone despite having become the favourite to win the clay-court tournament again after Carlos Alcaraz, Stan Wawrinka and Nicolás Jarry were all earlier beaten or retired injured.

In the earlier semifinal, fifth-seeded Báez topped his Argentine compatriot Francisco Cerundolo 7-5, 6-0 to advance to his fifth and biggest tour-level final.

“Argentina has many players and many very good players,” the 30th-ranked Báez said. “We are using this (tournament) to climb up, we are young. I like to play in Rio, come to Brazil. When I don’t play against a Brazilian I feel like a local.”

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