Challenger Q&A: Norrie Reflects On Victory In Stockton
The final months of the season are often critical for players competing on the ATP Challenger Tour. Those jockeying for coveted year-end Top 100 berths hope to take advantage of signficant opportunities on the circuit.
Enter Cameron Norrie. Few players have enjoyed a hotter stretch than the 22-year-old Brit, who streaked to consecutive Challenger crowns on Sunday. Norrie capped a dominant 26-4 run since Wimbledon with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Darian King, going back-to-back at the Northern California stops of Tiburon and Stockton.
Norrie has the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings well within his sights as he climbs to No. 111. With coach Facundo Lugones guiding the rising talent, he is up 164 spots since late July.
Norrie has even drawn the attention of countryman and former World No. 4 Greg Rusedski. Competing at an ATP Champions Tour event in Monterrey, Mexico, Rusedski said, "I've been really impressed with how Cameron has played the past few weeks, winning a few Challengers. His ranking has really gone up this year and it's good news for British tennis."
After you won in Tiburon, you said how important it was to come in mentally and have the same level day in and day out. How do you feel you did?
I feel very happy with the way I competed and how I was mentally this week. It was very tough at the start of the tournament, especially against Brydan Klein. I didn't play great at all and I managed to get through the match. After that, I played the best tennis in the last two weeks. I played unbelievable against Tennys Sandgren and after going down 5-0 against Michael Mmoh too. Today I played a very clean match, so I'm happy with the way I competed. I was mentally tough this week and that's how I got through it.
Today, the conditions were brutal. There were 20 mile-per-hour winds with gusts going up to 40-45. How did you keep it clean today?
I knew that going in and I tried to use it to my advantage. I tried to play smart and compete with every point. From the start of the match, I just wanted it to be intense and play it safe through the middle. If the ball was there to be hit, just hit it. I played smart and used the drop shot when I needed to, into the wind. It was a very good play for me and I think he was a little rattled with the wind. I got the hang of it in the second set.
You stayed on top of the baseline, even with the wind in your face. There aren't many players who are willing to do that. What does that say about your skills to be able to take the ball on the rise?
In the last few years, I've been doing a drill with my coach where you play points while standing on top of the baseline. You play with one foot inside the baseline and that's helped so much. It's my favourite drill and the best for me. Today, I was very comfortable hitting with the wind and stepping in. It makes a big difference to know that guys can't leave balls short against me, because I'm going to punish them. I'm really happy with where my game is heading, but I have a lot to work on.
You mentioned the Klein match. It got pretty testy and I found myself thinking it was going to get away from you. I've seen that kind of thing happen countless times in tournaments. How did you stay focused through that one?
I wasn't playing well at all and he gave me the break back in the second set. I got broken again, but just hung in there and played very good in the tie-break. I wanted to keep it about tennis and not worry about all the little things going on. There were a lot of distractions with ball kids too, but I just wanted to keep it about tennis. He played a great first set, so all credit to him. It was a very competitive match.
You're up to No. 111 now in the [Emirates ATP Rankings]. You talked about it last week. How much pressure are you putting on yourself, in terms of what you have left for the rest of the year?
As me and my coach [Facundo Lugones] say, I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. If I'm getting better every day and working on the things I need to, I'm going to be a better tennis player. There's no goal and if I get to the Top 100 I'll be satisfied. If I need to play qualies at the Australian Open, I will. It is what it is and I'm just going to enjoy the rest of the year. I'm looking forward to a big preseason in Buenos Aires and hopefully I can keep it that way.
You have the Brits backing you of course and then you also have the Texans supporting you [as a former Texas Christian University standout]. It's nice to have that dual fanbase.
The TCU community has been great for me. I get a message from a couple of people there every day. It's nice to have a college in Fort Worth backing me. And I think I have quite a lot of fans in the U.K. now, so it's nice to have that dual base. It feels so good and I'm at home wherever I go.
We'll leave it with the oddball question of the day... Which fantasy football are you more involved in, the Texan (American football) or the U.K. (English football)?
The Texan. My squad did pretty good today. I'm happy with how they went. I'm in a league with a bunch of old TCU tennis alums. I'm pretty into it now.
Second straight trophy. You went into San Francisco to celebrate last week. How do you do it now?
Well, I need to get to Fairfield. I'm still deciding whether I'm going to play or not. My shoulder is giving me some problems. So we'll see what happens there. I think we're going to head back to Tiburon actually and stay with our housing family tonight.