Cameron Norrie is growing used to being a little more recognised at sport’s most famous postcode.
Andy Murray is still the big noise in these SW19 parts, with his successor as British No.1 quite happy to play a supporting role – for now.
He survived a small second set scare to come through his first-round match with qualifier and Wimbledon rookie Tomas Machac 6-3 4-6 6-1 6-4.
If Murray was statesmanlike in his blink and you’d miss it opening clash on Centre Court, Norrie was workmanlike, with either American Christopher Eubanks or Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro now awaiting in the second round.
Twelve months ago, he started his campaign on Court 2 but his run to the semi-finals, where he was defeated by Novak Djokovic, means he is embracing the privileges of his new status this week.
He is an unerringly grounded sort of bloke Norrie, albeit with an increasingly refined taste for the tennis high life. He is now a member of his sport’s most exclusive club, joking he sometimes comes here just for its power showers.
“I’ve got a lot of good memories and feelings from last year,” he said, after needing to summon all his smarts to repel old school serve and volleyer Machac.
“This was a good match for me and there’s a lot to learn and take from it. He made it really tricky, he’s a big match player who can play at a really high level. I needed to adapt to his game and change my tactics and I’m really pleased with how I did that.
“I genuinely feel there is no reason why I can’t go deep in the tournament again. Last year doesn’t mean anything, we all have to start again, but sure, it’s good for confidence.
“The draw is still stacked and lots of players are dangerous on this surface. I’m going to have to improve match by match but this is a good start.”
Norrie, who broke into the world’s top ten last September, started the year with back-to-back ATP Tour finals on clay, losing in Buenos Aires but winning in Rio, both matches against world number one Carlos Alcaraz.
This was going to be the year he made good on last year’s All England Club breakthrough, which came without the 720 ranking points it deserved after the tournament defied tennis authorities to ban Russian and Belarusian players.
However, he has struggled to recapture that early year form in recent weeks, losing tamely in the quarter-finals at Queen’s following third round exit in the French Open.
Norrie’s run to semis 12 months ago and British number one status does have some perks this week, with his matches all but guaranteed to be played on Wimbledon’s main two courts.
So as rivals kicked their heels in the locker room, looking gloomily at leaden skies, Norrie was in action under the roof.
“The last two years that was me waiting around in the rain,” added Norrie, after his match on No.1 Court.
“It was nice to have a run last year and then to be able to play on this court. It’s a big advantage to get to finish my match even when I knew the weather was bad. I felt like I’ve earned the right to play on these courts and have the roof.”
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