Not everything has gone the way Cameron Norrie might like in terms of results during the 2023 ATP Tour season. Yet all players, even the very best in the world, go through tough stretches, and the Briton is not one to let a few lean months stop him believing in his own ability.
“I started the year winning [lots of] close matches, and that's kind of how tennis goes,” Norrie, who is 36-23 for the year, told ATP Tennis Radio on Saturday at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. “You win or lose close ones all at once, and I think it just becomes automatic. I've had a couple of tough losses recently, but I think that's tennis and that's just how you can learn from it and respond from it.”
Even if things don't always go to plan on the court, the lifestyle and friendships Norrie enjoys on the tennis merry-go-round are more than enough to keep him positive day-to-day. The World No. 18 believes that those constants are the foundation for him to rediscover his best form.
“Luckily I have a really good team around me to push,” said Norrie, who arrived in Vienna having gone 1-6 since the US Open. “For me, I'm really still really enjoying the Tour, enjoying the travel, and going to new places still. It's definitely been an interesting year, but I need to stay patient.”
Norrie applies his calm approach to practice as much as he does matches. The five-time ATP Tour champion believes it helps him stay positive even when he is struggling to close out wins.
“The big question is to build confidence and I think there are two ways, either on the match court or on the practice court,” said Norrie. “If you're working as hard as you can on the practice court, trying to bring as much quality as you can, not really being too tough on yourself in the practice and really trying to stay fresh for the matches, I think that's one way.
“Then obviously going out in the matches and the tough moments and going out and playing to win. I think a couple of times recently I was playing for the other guy to miss in the bigger moments. That was the difference, especially playing with some of the best guys in the world. The margins are so small, and I think the smallest difference can sometimes be a big difference.”
Norrie made a red-hot start to the season, and in mid-March was the owner of a 21-3 record. His highlights in those early months included beating Alex de Minaur, Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz at the United Cup, championship-match runs in Auckland and Buenos Aires, and defeating Carlos Alcaraz to claim his maiden ATP 500 crown in Rio de Janeiro.
Although he has struggled to match those highs since then, the 28-year-old Norrie fought hard on Monday to hold off home wild card Filip Misolic in Vienna and now faces a second-round test against the fifth-seeded Alexander Zverev. The German is the sort of top-quality player that Norrie relishes facing.
“I know I have the level,” said Norrie, who will be chasing his 11th victory against a Top 10 opponent, and his fifth of this year, on Wednesday night against Zverev. “I know I've got it in me to play with some of the best guys in the world and [I've had] some big results already.
“I think it's how I can implement my game and play my tennis in the bigger moments. I think recently I haven't done that. I think there's obviously a lot of new younger players coming up. They're playing well, they're playing fearlessly, and that's something to learn from those boys… I know how to play, and I just need to compete as hard as I can. I think I'm one of the best competitors in the world when I'm at my highest, so knowing I've got that in my back pocket is always nice.”