Cameron Norrie, who was ranked 74th in the world at the beginning of the year, has shot up the ATP rankings to number thirteen after his recent victory in the California Dessert at the Indian Wells Masters 1000 tournament, which is often referred to as the “fifth grand slam”. The current British number 1 was born in Johannesburg, South Africa to a Welsh Mother and Sottish Father but grew up in Auckland, New Zealand before moving to live in London. He then went onto pursue an education, studying sociology, at the Texan Christian University in America as part of a scholarship. As a result of his success during his time as a student, Norrie decided to put his studies on hold to try and make it as a professional tennis player, which he has no doubt successfully achieved.
The 26-year-old turned professional back in 2017 when he was 22, and unlike his fellow compatriot Emma Raducanu who’s rise to the top has been quite the whirlwind, Norrie has made a gradual climb up the rankings. Breaking into the world’s top hundred in 2018 and top 50 the year after in 2019, his consistent form led to the winning of a first ATP tour title in Los Cabos, a 250 event, in July earlier this year.
Quite like his playing style, the left hander has produced consistently good results on the tour, however, before his Indian Wells triumph just last week, has never broken into the latter rounds of grand slams or Master 1000 tournaments like former British number 1 Andy Murray.
Norrie’s Indian Wells campaign kicked off with a three-set win over Tennys Sandgren of the United States. He then went onto beat Roberto Bautista Agut and Tommy Paul in the following rounds, which set up a quarter final encounter with no.11 seed Diego Schwartzman who he beat in a convincing straight sets victory, 6-0, 6-2. On the other side of the draw, an in form Grigor Dimitrov managed to surpass the number 1 seed and winner of the US Open just last month, Daniil Medvedev as well as Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the quarterfinals. This set up what was anticipated to be an interesting encounter between Dimitrov and Norrie; both of whom were bidding to reach their first Indian Wells final. However, the Brit was able to run away with an early lead winning the first set 6-2. His flat backhand and top-spin heavy forehand were used to full-effect in the second set where he managed to get the break and close out the match 6-2, 6-4. Into the final, Norrie faced an unexpected Nicolas Basilashvilli ranked no. 25 in the world. With both players seeking to achieve their maiden ATP Masters 1000 title, the two battled it out over three sets. Despite Basilashvilli taking the opining set 6-3, Norrie was able to fight back and win the match 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
His unexpected triumph in the California desert made Norrie the first British player to ever win the Indian Wells tournament, previous country men such as Andy Murray, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski were never able to clinch the trophy despite their success elsewhere on the tour. Norrie has also become the first man outside of the top 25 in the work to win Indian Wells since Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic in 2010.
Coming into the last month of the season, with potentially his best year on tour behind him, Norrie stands in good stead to qualify for the ATP Tour Finals in Turin this November. Currently 10th in the race, and with only 8 spots up for grabs, the recent champion will have to pull out some of his best tennis in the Paris Rolex Masters coming up this week.