Cam Norrie believes natural durability can help at Roland Garros with Brit confident for Roland Garros
When the lockdown fell last year, Cam Norrie strapped on his running shoes and hit the road.
Armed with the Strava app and with little else to do, he returned to one of his childhood sports loves and, after a while, logged an impressive 38 minutes over ten kilometers.
Twelve months later, his high levels of endurance and fitness propelled him to become an unexpected breakthrough star of the clay court season.
Cam Norrie’s high fitness levels have helped him enjoy a revolutionary clay court season
Although he has little pedigree on the surface, he enters the French Open with 23 wins this season, two ATP finals and at 14th place in the standings based on the 2021 results, two places above Dan Evans. In the last two Grand Slam tournaments, he has been the longest-standing survivor of UK singles, regardless of gender.
Opponents find Norrie’s attributes an unusual and niggly backhand and her sheer durability a tough combination to crack. It was too much last week in Lyon for Dominic Thiem, generally considered one of Rafael Nadal’s few true challengers on clay.
“I’ve always been a good runner, my mom and grandfather were runners. My mother has always done a lot of marathons, so I have good genes, ”says the 25-year-old southpaw. “I did a lot of cross country in school and was pretty decent at cricket, but I didn’t like fielding.
“ In tennis I don’t have a huge serve or a forehand to blow people up, so I guess I have to put my level there longer than the other guys. ”
Even by peripatetic tennis standards, Norrie is a sort of wanderer, with a very eclectic background. While some players have struggled to travel from bubble to bubble, maybe that’s one reason he seems to have coped with it so well.
Norrie’s British parents, David and Helen, are microbiologists whose work took them to Johannesburg, where he was born. After several security alerts, including a neighbor at gunpoint, they decided to move to Auckland.
The 25-year-old has won 23 games so far this season and reached two ATP finals
Norrie beat Dominic Thiem last week in Lyon and believes his endurance is a key strength in his
“We have been robbed several times. My parents were a little nervous there and they wanted to be somewhere more comfortable to raise their children, ”he says. “ My parents didn’t know too many people in New Zealand so it was quite difficult for them at first, a little brave, I was too young to remember. My dad was thinking of coming back to UK and has family in Scotland and loves the cold, he still has the accent.
With New Zealand tennis being both geographically isolated and strapped for cash, young Norrie took advantage of his British passport and switched allegiance. He spent more time in the UK, where the LTA still struggles to produce elite talent.
Still, his travels weren’t over, as he chose the increasingly popular path of professional gaming by taking a scholarship in the American college system and moving to college in Texas.
After becoming the highest ranked player in the NCAA, he dropped out of school with a year to turn pro, but reveals he has resumed his studies in sociology.
The British number two went through the American college system and was a top tier player
“ I just re-registered to complete it online, I might have to do a semester to graduate at some point, but it’s a box I want to tick. It was three good years, there was such a balance between learning and having fun and tennis.
“It helped me grow. You learn to compete not only for yourself but as a team, that’s a lot of pressure in its own way. I would recommend it. In my New Year, I socialized a lot, and it was a very complete experience, but I got more serious after that.
Now the owner of an apartment in Putney, he wants to spend more time there, especially since he has been living off his kitbag almost non-stop since before Christmas, with all the issues associated with the whereabouts of Covid.
He left the UK early to escape the creeping threat of the virus. Andy Murray might have wished he had followed suit, contracting the disease at the National Tennis Center, meaning he couldn’t make it to the Australian Open.
Andy Murray was kicked out of the Australian Open after contracting Covid-19 earlier this year
“ I left before Christmas, I went to California where my girlfriend (Louise, an interior designer) was staying, then I played the tournament in Delray Beach. I was a little worried about the Kent variant so decided to go early.
“ I came home after the Miami Open (late March) for ten days just to break it up, but that’s it. I had already played a lot and needed to rest.
“I wouldn’t say I’m thriving in the bubble, but I don’t feel exhausted and it’s an easy excuse to say ‘oh that’s not great and I’m missing out on so much.’ I try not to. look at what others might be doing.
He looks forward to spending some time at home, where he spends his free time playing golf and watching any sport on TV. However, he doesn’t expect even the grass season to offer any relief from the restrictions he and his peers have been through.
Wimbledon is set to start at the end of June, but with high levels of restrictions for players
“ I’m afraid it won’t be the same, from what I hear Wimbledon is going to be pretty strict. I really love having my own accommodation and being able to relax there, but at the same time, I loved moving around as much as I did. It shaped me as a person and I have met so many different people from different places. Now that I’ve made some money, it’s great to move to London.
There was no seismic change in his game which led to such impressive results, including winning two ATP Finals this month, in Estoril and Lyon.
“I’m doing everything a little better. I am more aggressive and my feet are quite electric. The most important is consistency and playing better on big points.
“Evo did well too. It was nice to hear the comments from the coaches and other players that you Brits are unreal on clay, I enjoyed hearing that, and it maybe surprised a few people.
Dan Evans has also impressed as British players look more and more comfortable on clay