Cameron Norrie: How the new British number one made his rapid rise up the rankings

Cameron Norrie was the first Briton ever to win Indian Wells.
Cameron Norrie turned professional just four years ago. He can now be called the British number one, the member of the top 16 in the world, and the Masters Series champion.

Norrie became the first British champion at Indian Wells after a three-set win over Nikoloz Basilashvili, Georgia.

The 26-year old has moved up from 74 to the top of the rankings at the beginning of the year. She has won 47 matches, two titles and reached four finals.

Norrie, who is expected to perform well in Paris's final Masters event in 2021, could still qualify for the ATP Finals. This will be a competition that includes the top eight players from the year.

His journey began in Johannesburg and ended in London via Auckland, Texas Christian University. He laid the foundations for an explosive rise in the ranks.

An American college education

David and Helen Norrie, microbiologists, become parents to Cameron in Johannesburg 26 year ago. Because of the security situation in South Africa, Norrie decided to move to Auckland where he represented New Zealand in a successful junior role.

He was born to a Welsh mother with a Scottish father and was always meant to represent Great Britain, despite his Kiwi accent. At the age of 18, he switched his nationalities and returned to the UK. He then decided to accept a Texas Christian University tennis scholarship.

"This is where you can go and work hard," he declared to himself upon his arrival.

"The weather will be great. The place was very welcoming to me. It was a great place to work with.

"College tennis is a great decision. Especially coming from where you were - top 10 juniors - it certainly gave me more time to mature, really get involved and enjoy my time there. It also allowed me to get an education.

"All things are organized for you. Your friends will be there. They are there for you on weekends. I found it difficult to think about the tour or the pain of losing so many matches in Futures. It was a great decision.

While he was in Forth Worth, Norrie reached the top of the NCAA individual standings - the rankings for tennis students located in North America – during his time there. He was unable to finish his year-long sociology degree, so he left to become a professional. However, he has resumed his online studies.

Meeting coach 'Facu'

Facundo Lugones (right), has given Norrie the nickname "el chico", which in Spanish means "small boy".

Facundo Lugones was Norrie's most important friend in Texas.

In the final year of the Argentine's career, they were teammates on the Horned Frogs team. After completing his studies, he became a volunteer coach and Lugones was asked by Norrie to go on tour with him.

Norrie stated, "It's been evidently great to have someone who knew me in college, and also knew me off-court, and whom I respected as one my team-mates."

"We never got sick of one another, so that's certainly a bonus. He is so passionate about tennis. He gives 120% every single day. He is a great coach because he takes care of every detail.

He's always open to learning and listening to others. It's great because he does it every time I try something new.

Lugones agrees.

He said, "We are really near, we get along really good," about the British number one. He affectionately called him 'el chico, which in Spanish means'small boy.

He also gives each other space and has been traveling with his girlfriend for the past two years so he spends more time with her than with me.

"If he doesn’t want dinner with me for a few days, that’s fine. The same goes for me."

Warum is there such a sudden improvement?

Norrie has only been to as many finals this year as Novak Djokovic, the world number one.

Norrie has become a top-20 player through his confidence, experience, fitness, improved serve, and increased weight on his ground strokes.

He believes he was too passive in his early career. This is a legacy from the college circuit where he was able to win simply by keeping the ball in the court.

Lugones said that Lugones is very skilled at learning lessons.

"I would say that he has taken more control of his career in the last 18 months. He became a professional in all things and made tennis his sole focus. He's one of those guys who will never regret not doing things the right thing.

Norrie is also very active in his fitness. He is grateful to Helen, his mother, who ran a marathon in three hours and a half.

Lugones stated that Lugones is a great endurance athlete who can travel long distances and for long hours.

He does that naturally. From a young age, he loved to run. He loved long distance running and will sometimes run 10k on his days off.

We do a lot of running together, but we focus more on his strength and movement on the court than his endurance. It's almost like he does that instinctively."

What is the future?

A top 16 player does not need to play a higher-ranked opponent after the fourth round of a Grand Slam. Norrie was in the third round at each of the three first Slams this year when he ran into Rafael Nadal in Melbourne, Paris, and Roger Federer on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.

Norrie is now a real contender to be in the eight-man field at the end of the season ATP Finals, Turin next month. She has already entered consecutive tournaments, Paris, Stockholm, and Vienna in an effort to qualify.

He also pledged to represent Great Britain at the Davis Cup Finals in November.

These are great opportunities that no one would pass up. However, the new season is quickly approaching.

It is often more difficult to find the time to relax, recuperate and start again after a successful day. It is an interesting problem to face.