Cameron Norrie is hoping practising with Andy Murray can inspire him to produce some heroics of his own on his Wimbledon debut.
The 21-year-old, who was born in South Africa to a Scottish father and Welsh mother, was given a wild card after combining an impressive college career in the United States with climbing into the top 250 of the world rankings.
Since leaving Texas Christian University in May, Norrie has already ticked off a first top-100 scalp and a first ATP Tour victory – over 49th-ranked Horacio Zeballos in Eastbourne this week.
When Wimbledon champion Murray was looking for a practice partner at the All England Club last week, Norrie’s coach James Trotman volunteered his man.
“It was great and it would be nice to hit with him more in the future because he brings so much intensity,” said Norrie, ranked 236.
“He’s such a great role model and practising with him... he’s at such a high level that it kind of rubs off on you. I feel like my practice with him helped me a lot with my confidence.”
If Murray was all business, Norrie found some common ground with the Scot’s coach Ivan Lendl.
He said: “I was talking to Lendl a little bit more than him [Murray]. He was a bit more reserved but he wasn’t really too interested in college tennis.
“Lendl knows someone from TCU and he had some fairly good stories. He’s a funny guy.”
Norrie’s prized wild card has earned him an exciting, if slightly daunting, date with 12th seed and former semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga today.
The gulf in experience is enormous but Norrie showed in taking on Tsonga’s countryman Gael Monfils at Eastbourne that he is a good competitor and possesses some decent weapons.
He has enjoyed his first proper taste of the short British grass-court season, saying: “It’s been great. It’s good for me to get some time on the grass and feel more comfortable on the grass. I haven’t had that much time on it.
“And to get the support out there is great. It’s nice for the crowd to shout your name and make you feel like they’re backing you.
“I can’t wait [for Wimbledon]. I hope I can bring that intensity and play my best tennis and that’s the main thing I’m excited for. I’m trying to enjoy it.”
Norrie honed his game over three years at Texas Christian University, playing professional tournaments when he could and ending his last season as the leading player in college tennis.
He decided not to complete the final year of his degree in sociology and instead seize the moment to turn pro.
Norrie said of his wild card: “I was kind of expecting it but I didn’t know for sure, and it was nice. I’ve put in so much hard work over the last couple of years at college and I didn’t waste a practice session for the last two years.
“It’s nice to know that some of the hard work is paying off. To be rewarded with a Wimbledon wild card, I’m thankful and grateful for the opportunity.”
Norrie still intends to base himself at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth when he is not playing tournaments. North America is the fourth continent he has called home.
He grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, but when it became clear he could not realise his tennis dreams based so far from the centres of the game, he moved alone to Britain at 16, having never set foot in the country.
He found the intensity of living and training at the National Tennis Centre too much but TCU has reinvigorated both Norrie and his tennis.
“College helped me learn to love the game again,” he said. “I feel like I’ve matured a lot and it prepared me for real life.”