There’s a rich heritage of British fightbacks from the brink of defeat at Wimbledon – only to fall agonisingly short in five sets. Cameron Norrie has no interest in being part of it.
Instead he rallied from a 2-1 deficit against Spaniard Jaume Munar to blitz the final two sets, dropping just two games in the process.
It was a very un-British display from the South African-born and New Zealand-raised world number 12, whose 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-0 6-2 victory sets up a third round date with American Steve Johnson.
Norrie knows he flies under the radar at Wimbledon despite his status as the British men’s number one, albeit one that plays in the shadow of two-time champion Andy Murray.
He is the first home player to be a top ten men’s seed here in five years but needs a run deep into the second week to really raise his profile beyond tennis’s hardcore supporters.
However, despite picking up four ATP Tour wins, Norrie is a novice in the Grand Slam tournaments, this is his 21st major appearance and he’s never reached the fourth round.
The claim against him was he found the big stage lights just a little too bright, something that seemed to have some merit with the way he started in front of a partisan capacity crowd on No. 1 Court.
“I’ve been saying it all of this year, I want to make the second week for the first time at a slam,” said Norrie.
“It’s not about making a name for myself, if that happens, then great. I want to prove it to myself and my team.
“This is the biggest tournament of the year for me, this is where I want to play my best tennis. I’m just focussed on that.
“I’ve got another opportunity to embrace the pressure and embrace the challenge of trying to make the second week.
“Can I win it? I think I’m going to have to do things a lot better but I feel like my level is improving.
“I’m feeling good physically but it would be a big shock to me. However, I’m still in the tournament, so there chance is still there.”
Norrie dominated first round opponent Pablo Andujar but Munar’s booming 135mph serve had him on the ropes until his late fightback, the Spaniard struggling with cramp as the 26-year-old Londoner found the level that won him the prestigious Indian Wells tournament last year.
“I took too long to settle, I wasn’t hitting the ball well or moving well,” he added. “I don’t know what the problem was but I was tentative and nervous – he was the better player for the first three sets.
“I was pleased to find that level at the end and to finish off the match that way going through the gears. That’s why I love best-of-five and I think I used my physicality to my advantage.”
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Photo caption: Cameron Norrie was the first British player to make the third round at Wimbledon (Reuters via Beat Media Group subscription)