Cameron Norrie embracing Wimbledon pressure as he bids to end third-round Grand Slam hoodoo

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·3-min read
Cameron Norrie embracing Wimbledon pressure as he bids to end third-round Grand Slam hoodoo
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For one of the most consistent players on tour, it is an anomaly that Cameron Norrie has never made it past the third round of a Grand Slam.

Despite four ATP Tour title wins — two of which have come this season — he has not managed to click at one of the four majors.

One of just two British men still standing in the Wimbledon draw, Norrie has an ideal chance of playing into the second week. He is the highest-ranked player — at No9 — in his section of the draw, following the early exits of Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz.

“I’ve been saying it all of this year, I wanted to make the second week for the first time ata Slam,” he said, ahead of facing American Steve Johnson today. “I don’t see why not. I’m feeling a bit more comfortable, moving a lot better.”

Playing on a grass surface is not something that has come naturally to him. Norrie has had to work at it, but always with the belief that he had the game to eventually shine on it, a thought process aided by his run to the final at Queen’s Club last year.

His section of the draw at SW19 had potentially looked tough on paper. Ruud was seeded three, fresh from making the French Open final, while Hurkacz was deemed among the tournament favourites as a semi-finalist and vanquisher of Roger Federer a year ago.

But Norrie said their absences, or the fact he might eventually prove to be the last British man in the draw — Liam Broady is also into the third round and faces Alex de Minaur over the weekend — had little bearing on his approach to the match.

British No1 Cameron Norrie has never made it past the third round at a Grand Slam (PA)
British No1 Cameron Norrie has never made it past the third round at a Grand Slam (PA)

“I’ll take being the highest seed left,” he said. “It means I’m doing well this year. I’ll definitely take having a better draw rather than not. And if I’m the last Brit standing, it is what it is. I’m going to go and treat it like any other match.

“I’m playing one of my favourite tournaments, if not my favourite tournament of the year. It’s another opportunity to embrace the pressure, embrace the challenge of trying to make the second week.”

Habitually, unlike his fellow Brits Andy Murray and Emma Raducanu, Norrie has been overlooked for the showcourts at Wimbledon and the other Slams.

He began his Wimbledon bid on No2 before being shifted to No1 for the second round and now the prestigious last match on Centre Court tonight.

“I was definitely appreciative of the club to put me on Court One,” he said. “I definitely made the most of it and enjoyed it out there, especially the atmosphere. As a player, you can fell that atmosphere, that environment. I think it was huge.”

In his match against Munar, Norrie struggled at points before streaking away for a 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory.

Against Johnson, a former last-16 player at Wimbledon, the British No1 said his physicality would hold him in good stead, but that he would need to execute his game plan far better to have aspirations of a run into the second week.

Wimbledon 2022

Asked if he could go on to win the whole tournament, he said: “It will be a big shock to me, but I’m still in the tournament, I’m still going.

“I’m not really focusing on that, but I’m feeling good and looking forward to the next one. I’m in it to win it.

“I’ve now got another opportunity to play a third-round match here at Wimbledon. I’ve still got a lot of things I would like to work on and improve, but I feel like my level is improving.”

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