New British No 1 Cam Norrie is thriving in the red zone as he seeks to beat Grigor Dimitrov in Indian Wells semi-finals and break into world’s top 20 for first time
- Cam Norrie’s powers of endurance have been a key factor in his rise this year
- The slow hard courts at Indian Wells reward players prepared to grind it out
- He faces Grigor Dimitrov in Saturday’s semi-final at the BNP Paribas Open
- Norrie became British No 1 for the first time due to this week’s run in California
Cam Norrie’s fellow British players have long marvelled at his powers of endurance, honed by a natural lung capacity and a fondness for long-distance running.
This has been a key factor in his rise this year, the latest stage of which sees him in Saturday’s semi-final of the BNP Paribas Open, where he plays Grigor Dimitrov.
Norrie’s long-time coach, Argentine Facundo Lugones, recalls how Andy Murray’s fitness coach, Matt Little, was astonished by his numbers during last year’s ‘Battle of the Brits’ event.
Cam Norrie’s astonishing powers of endurance have been a key factor in his rise this year
‘They were wearing a sports measurement vest and monitoring his heart rate,’ said Lugones. ‘I remember Matt told us after one of the matches against Kyle Edmund that Cam was in the red zone for eight straight minutes, which is almost impossible.
‘A normal person would die after two minutes in the red zone. He played eight minutes which is 180 to 200 beats per minute. He can definitely bring his heart rate really high and still play normally. He is an animal in that department.’
The slow hard courts at Indian Wells reward players prepared to grind it out, and few are better at that than 26-year-old Norrie. According to Lugones, his player’s reputation is spreading around the locker room.
‘They know if they’re playing him they’re in for like a long day,’ he said. ‘When you’re against a guy who shows up every single day, a lot of players are sometimes not ready for that. They know they have to dig deep to beat him.
‘He has the ability to play every single point and not take one point off. That takes people to a place mentally and physically where it is uncomfortable and not easy to perform, and then they start playing worse.
The slow hard courts at Indian Wells reward players prepared to grind it out such as Norrie
Norrie’s mother Helen is a keen amateur runner, and would take her young son along with her when she exercised. When lockdown hit, he spent his days running, reeling off 10km in less than 40 minutes.
Now he takes on Dimitrov, the former world No 3 and under-achiever who has slipped to 28 but this week defeated US Open champion Daniil Medvedev.
The Bulgarian, 30, who plays so like Roger Federer, is a contrastingly elegant player but part of that lost generation that has been subsumed by the brilliance of Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
If Norrie prevails it will put him inside the world’s top 20 for the first time.