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Wimbledon 2022: Cameron Norrie is embracing and enjoying run at All England Club

By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport at Wimbledon
Wimbledon 2022 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

Shortly before he started the British grass season, Cameron Norrie told an amusing anecdote when asked about how he would deal with the increased scrutiny which the home players receive during Wimbledon.

"I was sitting in a restaurant recently, at the bar, and the bartender goes to me 'do you watch much tennis?'" said the British men's number one.

"I was in dressed in my casual clothes and said 'I watch a little bit'.

"He said 'you look exactly like this player, Cameron Norrie'.

"I was, like, 'Oh really, OK'. I played along, didn't say anything and on the way out I said 'I am Cameron Norrie'. He couldn't believe it."

It is unlikely the same bartender will make the same mistake after world number 12 Norrie finally cracked the last 16 of a Grand Slam.

The 26-year-old left-hander has enjoyed a rapid rise up the ATP rankings in the past couple of years, but was still to make a real breakthrough at one of the sport's four major tournaments.

Success at these events really cements a player in the public conscience and Norrie's victory over American Steve Johnson felt like the moment which will start to mark him out to wider British society.

While making a name for himself is not Norrie's main goal, he says he is enjoying the attention which comes with being one of Britain's biggest hopes at the All England Club.

A fervent atmosphere built gradually on Centre Court during his win against Johnson, with chants of 'Norrie, Norrie, Norrie! Oi, oi oi!' starting after he broke in the second set and creating a jubilant mood as he moved towards victory.

"Being the British number one, playing on Centre Court, being in the spotlight and playing to that level that I did, was a lot of fun," he said.

"I embraced it and really enjoyed it."

How a multi-cultural journey is thriving in London

Norrie's journey began in Johannesburg and, after moving to Auckland as a child and then studying in Texas, has since made a home in London.

With a Welsh mother and a Scottish father, he was always destined to represent the nation despite retaining a hint of a Kiwi accent.

His parents, microbiologists David and Helen, have been a driving force in his life and watched on proudly as they shared his finest moment on Centre Court.

The couple still live in New Zealand and have been following their son around the European clay and grass tournaments since flying over to Rome in May.

His sister, who lives in London, was among his loved ones in the players' box, along with his old landlady and friends from his university days.

"Having my parents here more just to hang out with and spend time with, and have my sister around, has been great," he said.

"One woman that I lived with in Texas, she's called Linda, she always comes to a couple of tournaments and it was cool to have her around, too.

"Also there were a couple friends, a couple of guys from university, who by chance are in London. They definitely came to the right one."

One of the reasons why Norrie has perhaps not come to the attention as much as a British number one might is a calm and quiet demeanour which means he does not seek the limelight away from the court.

During his free time he loves relaxing at the beach, or in a park near to his west London home, with his girlfriend Louise - an interior designer - or those in his close-knit circle of pals.

"I really feel good in London," he said.

"It's good for the tennis. It's a good base and I really enjoy spending time here.

"I've got a good group of friends now in London and I like practicing at the National Tennis Centre, helping all the younger Brits out as well."

Why did the breakthrough at a Slam take so long?

Cameron Norrie bends for a return in
Norrie switched allegiance to Great Britain as a 17-year-old in 2013

Going deep at a Grand Slam has been one of the left-hander's major targets in recent times.

Being pitched against two of the sport's all-time greats at the third-round stage on three occasions last year did not help his cause.

Spain's Rafael Nadal outclassed Norrie with straight-set wins in both Melbourne and Paris, while Switzerland's Roger Federer had too much nous for the Briton at Wimbledon.

After losing to Russian Karen Khachanov at the same stage in the French Open last month, it was the fourth time in six majors where he had fallen in the last 32.

Now that is the latest barrier broken after a couple of seasons which have seen him win his first ATP Tour title, claim a first Masters title and crack the world's top 10.

"Obviously losing four or five times already in the third round, having some tougher draws, I was able to learn from that experience," he said.

"Honestly, I wasn't too nervous out there today.

"I was more relaxed and it wasn't really too intimidating. Unbelievable court. It's really special to play out there."

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