Norrie reaps the rewards for catching running bug in lockdown
Sometimes, you can play too much tennis. Just ask Cameron Norrie, the British No3. Having struggled for form over the first two months of 2020, he shelved his racket during lockdown and picked up his running shoes instead.
On Wednesday night, the 25-year-old moved into the last 32 of a major for the first time by beating Federico Coria (a man destined to be overshadowed by his brother, former French Open finalist Guillermo). His reward is a winnable third-round meeting with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina today
Norrie (right) revealed his upswing had been prompted by a month of intense five and 10 kilometre time-trials in the neighbourhood around his parents’ Auckland house.
“I took a full month or six weeks off, but I think that helped me. Just getting to relax and living the simple life.
“I was doing these 10k runs – posting on Strava in competition with some of my friends. It was really hilly where I was, so it wasn’t easy to find a quick track, but I did a 36min 45sec and a 5k in 17min 20sec. I can’t decide if I’m better at 5k or 10k, but I’ve got some good genes, as my mum is a good runner.”
Norrie had made a scratchy start to the year, and he admits now that he was putting too much pressure on himself. For him, lockdown was a chance to reboot – a point he has proved with his two wins in New York. The first, against world No13 Diego Schwartzman, found Norrie fending off two match points before he eventually closed out a fiveset win in 3hr 59min.
In the final moments, he was still bouncing around like Zebedee while Schwartzman was racked with cramps. All those endurance runs had paid off – and in a very literal sense, because Norrie has already earned almost £123,000 this week.
“I feel pretty fortunate to be here,” said Norrie. “It wasn’t a clean performance against Schwartzman and I could easily have shanked a forehand on match point. I haven’t played my best tennis yet this week but I am very pleased with my attitude. I think the five-set format suits me well so I use that to my advantage. I feel physically great.”