Cameron Norrie has established himself as one of the fittest players on the ATP Tour. That is no surprise considering he was once asked by a doctor whether he was a deep-sea diver because of how large his lungs are.
Even with that in mind, some of the stories of the Briton’s fitness and competitive spirit are jaw-dropping.
Devin Bowen, the assistant coach at Texas Christian University, where Norrie played college tennis, recalls a training block they were doing in Fort Worth two years ago. After six days of training, Norrie would have a day off to recuperate and prepare for more hard work.
“On his day off, he loves to run. He loves long-distance running as a hobby. There was a 10K in town and he just went and he didn’t text, he just did it. [The point was] you rest and then we start the week,” recalled Bowen, who was largely responsible for Norrie’s on-court training at TCU and still assists when Norrie is in town. “He ran the 10K and won it. It was like, ‘Yes, that’s great that you did that, but the whole point of today was to rest your body and we’re going to start up again.’
“Once he entered it, I know he was thinking, ‘I’ll just enter it, I know I can do it. And then he got in there and went, ‘I’m going to win this thing’, and he won it. So he won the Fort Worth 10k, and that was just on a day off. It kind of gives you an idea of what kind of animal you’re dealing with.”
After Norrie defeated #NextGenATP Dane Holger Rune on Saturday in the third round of the US Open, a reporter asked the lefty if he would ever consider running a marathon.
“I would maybe like to after tennis. I quite enjoy running, but I haven’t been able to do that much,” Norrie said. “I feel like when I’m resting, I have to chill and relax rather than I think maybe three years ago my team were like, ‘All right, rest’, and then I’ll go the next day and run a little bit.
“I feel like now I’ve been a bit better with that and not really going out and running too much. I’m able to kind of rest and maybe do something different, try to play golf or do something like that than go out and run.”
It is not just about running for Norrie, who returns to Texas periodically with his coach and former college teammate, Facundo Lugones, for a training block. According to Bowen, Norrie’s physical fitness always shows.
“With him and his fitness coaches we’ll be doing challenges in my pool… with how many laps we can swim under water. It gets pretty carried away,” Bowen said. “Those kinds of things go on all the time. We were doing it last summer when we were [swimming] like 10 laps under water holding your breath and then the next guy would beat the record.
“He doesn’t like to lose at those. He doesn’t like to lose at anything.”
That extends beyond demonstrations of physical fitness, too. Outside of competition, Norrie is one of the most laid-back players on Tour. But when he attended TCU, Norrie would even take it to his teammates during practice.
“If you look at the time he was in college, he didn’t lose a lot of sets in practice, which was unusual. He just didn’t like [losing],” Bowen recalled. “There would be times when he was [crushing] somebody and you’re kind of thinking, ‘Cameron we’ve got to play tomorrow and [crushing] this guy right now is probably not going to help the team.’ But he would like that. He kind of does have a little bit of a mean streak in him [when it comes to competing].”
That competitive spirit has helped Norrie to a career-high No. 9 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. It has been a rapid rise for a man who was World No. 29 during last year’s US Open, in which he lost in the first round. He won his first ATP Masters 1000 title last October at Indian Wells and competed in the Nitto ATP Finals as an alternate. Two months ago, he battled through to his first major semi-final at Wimbledon.
Norrie’s fitness has always been there, and his game has caught up. From being able to play more aggressively with his forehand to being more comfortable transitioning to the net and finishing points there, Norrie has become an all-court, all-surface threat.
“His natural tendency was to make balls and run. That got him a lot of wins when he was in college and he was young. He had to evolve and be more aggressive in order to beat some of these better players and he’s done a good job of doing that. It’s not easy,” Bowen said. “It’s a challenge to force yourself to do something that doesn’t come naturally. He’s become a lot more aggressive as time’s gone on.”
Norrie will try to use that to his advantage as he continues through the draw at Flushing Meadows. The competitive Briton will look to continue his rise in the fourth round against ninth seed Andrey Rublev.
“I was happier with how I performed,’ Norrie said of his third-round win against Rune. “I’ve still got a lot of things I would like to improve, and I’ve got tomorrow to do that.”