Cameron Norrie sealed his biggest payday in the sport on Wednesday as he defeated Tommy Paul of the USA to reach the quarter-finals of Indian Wells. His reward already stands at £128,000, with power to add if he should overcome Diego Schwartzman in the next round.
There is a certain satisfaction in watching Norrie go to work. Not because he is a stylist in the mould of Roger Federer, but because of the almost sadistic way he works his opponents around the court.
Against Paul, Norrie had to survive some brutal passages of play, including one game early in the deciding set where he saw 10 break points go by without managing to seize any of them. Never mind; he stepped up and claimed the 11th. By this stage, Paul felt so beaten up that he resorted to wild swings, and was soon heading off the court on the wrong end of a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 reverse.
After the match, Norrie described Paul as a “streaky player” who can blow you off the court for a couple of games and then donate a couple of cheap games. This suited Norrie, a man who makes a virtue out of solidity. Even if he dropped below his usual standards in the second set, he regrouped and finished much the stronger of the two.
Norrie success would seal British No 1 spot
“After four years on tour I’m more mature,” Norrie told Mark Petchey of Amazon Prime. “I’m handling the bigger moments now and I’m happy to be through such a scrappy match like today. I will need to rest my legs and get ready to run again tomorrow.”
There is plenty at stake on Thursday against Diego Schwartzman, the 11th seed from Argentina, who has already disposed of another Briton this week in Dan Evans. Were Norrie to avenge his compatriot, he would overtake Evans to become the British men’s No 1, while also moving into the world’s top 20 for the first time.
Although Norrie won an entry-level ATP event in Mexico this summer, his victory over Paul already makes this the most rewarding tournament of his career. He had not previously reached the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 event – the next level down from the majors – and the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells is the most prestigious of those nine events.
What is more, Norrie has now racked up 44 tour-level wins this year, which places him level with world No 1 Novak Djokovic. Even if he tends to fly beneath the radar, he is beginning to keep pace with the biggest names in the game.