Cameron Norrie has established himself as one of the strongest players on the ATP Tour. That’s no surprise, considering a doctor once asked him if he was a deep-sea diver because of the size of his lungs.
Even with that said, some of the stories about the Briton’s fitness and competitive spirit are astounding.
Devin Bowen, the assistant coach at Texas Christian University, where Norrie played college tennis, remembers a practice block they did in Fort Worth two years ago. After six days of training, Nori would have a day off to recover and prepare for more hard work.
“On his day off, he likes to run. He enjoys running long distances as a hobby. There was a 10K in town and he just went and didn’t text me to let me know, he just did. When the point was to rest,” recalls Bowen, who was largely responsible for Norrie’s tuition at TCU and still helps him when he’s in town. “He ran the 10K and won it. It was like, “Yeah, it’s great that you did it, but the goal today was to rest your body, and now it’s time to start over.”
“Once he got into the race, I know he was thinking, ‘I’m just going to go in, I know I can do it.’ And then he got in and said, ‘I’m going to win this.’ So he won the Fort Worth 10k and that was just on an off day. It gives you an idea of what kind of animal you’re dealing with.”
After Norrie defeated #NextGenATP Holger Rune on Saturday in the third round of the US Open, the southpaw was asked by a reporter if he would ever consider running a marathon.
“Maybe I would after tennis. I really enjoy running, but I haven’t been able to do much,” Norrie said. “I feel that when I’m not playing, I need to rest and relax, instead of thinking like three years ago my team told me, ‘OK, rest’ and I’ll go the next day and run a little bit.”
“I feel like I’m a bit better with it now and I’m not really running too much. I can rest a bit and maybe do something different, try to play golf or something instead of going for a run.
It’s not just running for Norrie, who regularly returns to Texas with his coach and former college teammate, Argentina’s Facundo Lugones, for a training block. According to Bowen, Norrie’s fitness is always noticeable.
“With him and his physical trainers, we do challenges in my pool about how many laps we can swim underwater. He gets carried away quite a bit,” Bowen said. “These things happen all the time. We did it last summer when we were [nadando] Like 10 laps underwater holding your breath and then the next one broke the record.”
“He doesn’t like to lose. He doesn’t like to lose at anything.”
This also extends beyond fitness demonstrations. Outside of competition, Nori is one of the more relaxed players on Tour. But when he attended TCU, Norrie even made his teammates pay during practice.
“If you look at his time in college, he didn’t miss a lot of sets in practice, which was unusual. I just didn’t like it [perder]Bowen recalled. “There were times when I was [aplastando] someone said to you, “Cameron, we have to play tomorrow and [aplastar] this guy is probably not going to help the team right now. But he did it anyway. There is a bit of evil in it [cuando se trata de competir]”.
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That competitive spirit helped Norrie rise to a career-high No. 9 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. It has been a rapid rise for a man who was ranked No. 29 in the world at last year’s US Open, where he lost in the first round. He won his first ATP Masters 1000 title last October in Indian Wells and competed at the Nitto ATP Finals as an alternate. Two months ago, he fought his way to his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon.
Norrie’s fitness has always been there and his game has caught up. From the ability to play more aggressively with her forehand to being more comfortable going to the net and finishing points there, Norrie has become a threat all over the court and on all surfaces.
“His natural inclination was to pass balls and run. It brought him many victories when he was in college and young. He had to develop and be more aggressive to beat some of these better players and he did a good job of that. It’s not easy,” Bowen said. “It’s a challenge to force yourself to do something that doesn’t come naturally. It became much more aggressive as time went on.”
Norrie will look to use this to his advantage as he continues to move up the ranks at Flushing Meadows. The competitive Briton will be looking for the quarter-finals when he takes on ninth seed Andrei Rublev.
“I’m happy with my performance,” Norrie said of her third-round win against Rune. “I still have a lot of things I’d like to improve on and I have tomorrow to do that.”