Where once the British No2 might blow hot and cold from one week to the next, in 2021 he has been the model of consistency, resulting in final appearances in both Lyon and Estoril.
Today, he was bidding to translate that form onto the grass by beating Albert Ramos Vinolas in the first round at Queen’s, a venue where he has the unenviable record of having no wins in four attempts at the tournament.
Ahead of his match, he said: “I’ve had some pretty tough draws in the last few years. That first match on grass is never easy. The courts tend to be very green and quick, and it’s quite difficult to move on.”
Across London, at Wimbledon, he has not fared much better, with one win to his name in four tournaments, but the 25-year-old was confident going into today’s clash that this could be a grasscourt season of change for him.
“I definitely prefer the courts at Wimbledon — they’re a little bit slower,” he said. “I know I can play well there, I just need to keep the momentum there and take care of everything that I can. It’s so special to play at Wimbledon, especially after not being able to play there with everything. I’m looking forward to being back.”
His 2021 results today moved him to a career-high ranking of 41st in the world and edged him ever closer to becoming one of the top 32 seeds at a Grand Slam. It also leaves him 16 places shy of becoming British No1.
But of that national mark, he said: “I’m not too worried about that. I’m trying to get world No1, not just British No1! But getting to a career high and the results show that things are paying off. I just want to keep pushing for more.”
He has had the bettering of the man currently in the British No1 spot, Dan Evans, knocking him out in their all-British encounter at the Australian Open. And having reached three ATP Tour finals without a win, his sights are also set on a first career title before the end of his 2021 campaign, perfectly plausible on the evidence of current results.
A promising clay-court season was ended abruptly by a third-round encounter against Rafael Nadal at the French Open, the third time he has been drawn against and lost to the Spaniard this season.
“To play him in his garden in Roland Garros, it’s not easy at all,” he said. “I played a good match and still bowed out in straight sets, but it was a very cool experience to be playing him on his best surface when he’s playing some of his best tennis. Hopefully, I get him next time, although I just hope that next time isn’t too soon!”
An explanation for the best season of his career, Norrie believes, lies in being able to scrap through for the wins on bad days as well as far greater consistency on court. “In previous years, I’d have a couple of good weeks and drop off, but I’ve given myself a lot of opportunities and been consistent,” he said. “Plus, I’m serving well and I’m looking to dictate with my forehand.”
The grasscourt season also brings him back to home in London and what he calls “being able to just sit on my couch again”. But beyond his campaign at Queen’s and Wimbledon, it remains unclear what the summer holds. The Olympics remain a possibility, although he is uncertain at this stage.
“I’m going to have to see with the travel and everything — it’s going to be very tricky with the bubbles and the lack of opportunities up for grabs,” he said. “It would definitely be great to play for my country, but I’ll just have to review the situation with how the travel and bubble is, and how strict it will be.”
Cameron Norrie is the first graduate of the LTA’s pro scholarship programme.