British tennis has another hope for the future after Cameron Norrie cemented his Indian Wells triumph on Sunday, though the new world No. 15 once appeared at risk of giving up the sport altogether
New British No. 1 Cameron Norrie is on track for tennis superstardom after beating Nikoloz Basilashvili to the Indian Wells title on Sunday.
Norrie, 26, bounced back from a set down to beat the Georgian 3-6 6-4 6-1 and in the process became the first Briton to win the California competition.
Born in South Africa but raised in New Zealand by a Welsh mother and a Glaswegian father, Norrie’s career could have panned out far differently after a move to the United Kingdom briefly took the fun out of his vocation.
The Lawn Tennis Association was made aware of the player after he rose to become a top prospect in Auckland, where he was once ranked among the world’s top 10 juniors.
It was after being recruited as a 16-year-old and moving to London in 2013 that Norrie first found himself falling out of love with tennis, however, due to the change in focus and workload.
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“That was when I stopped enjoying tennis a little bit,” he told the Press Association in 2017.
“It was just too much. I was used to being in a normal school and then I came here and I was practising every day. I was staying at the National Tennis Centre and everything was about tennis.
“At the time it didn’t feel the right move for my well-being and I wasn’t the happiest but I’m happy I moved. I think it’s almost impossible to play tennis based in New Zealand.”
It was only one year later that Norrie accepted a scholarship to Texas Christian University in the United States, impressing in college competition prior to turning professional in 2017.
Backed by team-mate-turned-coach Facundo Lugones, it took him less than a year to move into the world’s top 100.
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Fans will remember the Davis Cup debut in which he defeated Roberto Bautista Agut—ranked 23rd in the world at the time—in front of his own Spanish supporters in February 2018.
Norrie reached his maiden ATP final in his boyhood Auckland just under a year later, but the tennis world is now witnessing the player’s potential being fulfilled in 2021.
Although he’s still yet to advance past the third round of a major tournament, this season has broken boundaries for the Briton after advancing to five finals and winning his first ATP title in July.
Norrie—who began 2021 ranked 71st in the world—swept Brandon Nakashima in straight sets to collect the 2021 Los Cabos Open in Mexico, moving into the top 30 for the first time as a result.
With 46 wins under his belt and counting, Norrie finds himself as a surprise contender to make the ATP Finals in November, which will be held outside London for the first time since 2008.
The end-of-year competition will begin a new five-year agreement in Turin, Italy, after more than a decade of being staged in the English capital.
Still, adapting to change is something Norrie has grown accustomed to thus far in his career, overcoming past struggles to become one of the sport’s top talents entering his prime years.
Securing a spot in the ATP Finals would be a fitting reward for Britain’s latest sensation, whose perseverance provided the foundation to excel on one of tennis’ biggest stages.