By Ros Satar, in Indian Wells
- Taro Daniel [Q] def. Cameron Norrie [Q] 6-3 1-6 6-1
- Credits the US College system for helping him get match-sharpness
INDIAN WELLS, USA – Following on from a strong year last year on the ATP Challenger circuit, British No. 3 Cameron Norrie has been making waves since his turn on the Davis Cup tie in Spain, earlier this year.
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Despite losing the battle of the qualifiers in the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open, British No. 3 Cameron Norrie is making waves in 2018 already with a strong run since making his Davis Cup debut after the Australian Open. Having hardly played in clay in his short career, he took World No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut to the woodshed, levelling the tie and giving Team GB a glimmer of hope. It wasn’t to be then, and sadly neither was it here in the Californian desert.
Playing fellow qualifier Taro Daniel, there was little separate them in the first set, with the only break points coming to the Japanese player. In the second set though, it was a very different story as the Brit turned the screw. Despite fending off two break points in the opening game, Norrie looked quick and decisive with his first break, and then bookended the set with a break to love before serving out the second set to level the match.
Daniel lifted his level though, in the decider, breaking Norrie twice in succession and deflecting a break point on his own serve before taking a second match point to set up a clash with five-time champion Novak Djokovic.
That loss though, off the back of qualifying runs into the main draws of Delray Beach and Acapulco is certainly nothing to be sniffed at.
“It’s really great, really stunning to be among the best players in the world. Today I was pretty disappointed with the way I started but then once I got my teeth into the match it was good, and then he played a very tough third set and played some big points when it mattered. Couldn’t’ be more proud of myself, I fought for every point so there’s nothing more I could ask of myself.”
“Qualifying two weeks in a row gives me a lot (of confidence). Playing well and I’m happy and I’m enjoying my tennis. Can’t wait for Miami, it’s going to be a good one. Haven’t played it before and never been to Miami so probably going to be a good time.”
Norrie’s rise up the rankings last year saw him go from just outside the Top 275 to World No. 115 by the end of last year, opening the door now to be able to compete far more on the main tour.
He explained: “I was doing really well last year, I did extremely well in college. So I think over the last three or four years just a lot of sacrifice and hard work. I think I just progressed from there and used that confidence throughout and I’m just enjoying my tennis.”
That being said, the Brit has put in a lot of court time in the last few weeks – but is raring to go, as the US hard court spring swing will close at the Miami tournament, before players start transitioning for the clay court season.
“I feel mentally fresh, I feel physically good. Pretty surprising because I haven’t played that many weeks in a row before. I’m looking forward to [the clay court swing], just to see what I can do on the courts and I think a couple of people will be looking a bit wary about me. I’m excited for it and it’s going to fun in Europe and its good to get out of the States a little bit for sure.”
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The difference the US college circuit has made
Much like Kyle Edmund and indeed Andy Murray, Norrie has a solid work ethic, helped along by his time on the US College circuit after he took a tennis scholarship to Texas Christian University (2015-2017). He became the No. 1 collegiate plater in the NCAA rankings, before turning pro and starting working his way up through the rankings on the lower tier circuit. He made his ATP World Tour debut at Queen’s in 2017 and picked up three Challenger titles last year,
He explained: [You play] a lot of matches and it teaches you how to compete and win a lot of matches. Kind of just a good balance of life. There’s more to life than tennis. That’s what I think college taught me. I think it’s tough for me now once I’ve just focused all my energy on tennis to find a good balance. I mean I’m enjoying it right now and I’m playing well.”
The Miami Open takes place between 21 March and 1 April.
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