Last night he was promoted to the “Andy Murray Slot” with the hope he could engage, entertain and maybe even enrapture like the two-times champ. “Heavy is the head” and all that. No pressure, mate.
Well, Norrie is not Murray, rather his own man. And, with his own style he cruised through to the fourth round for the first time with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-0 victory over America’s Steve Johnson.
Slow to warm up, Centre was pumped up by the end. Any more classy, speedy performances like this from the British No1 and everyone will want a piece of him. There are probably enough pieces to go round for Cam was born in South Africa, raised in New Zealand, schooled in the US and is half-Welsh and - not forgetting - 50 percent Scots too, with dad David, originally from Glasgow, flying halfway round the world to lead the celebrations.
“I enjoyed that match, it was a lot of fun and I could not be happier,” said the 26-year-old Norrie who tomorrow faces another American, Tommy Paul, for a place in the quarter-finals.
It was a quiet opening, the players remembering each other from knock-ups during college days in the US but playing each other for the first time.
Johnson packed a tasty serve with a speed of up to 131mph and he needed it when Norrie threatened in the sixth game, also the eighth. Then it was Norrie’s turn to be in trouble, only he used the same salvage tactic and the crowd settled in for a tight affair with next to no incidental drama.
Norrie doesn’t get emotional like Murray or spill his guts on the court. No bulging neck veins, no screaming at the turf. Just a first raised, almost politely, in the direction of his team, but a little more vigorously when, after the best rally thus far, he popped a stop volley down the line to claim the first set.
Johnson’s pistol-packing play at the start of the second should have broken Norrie but the latter held firm and, to add insult to injury, proceeded to break the Californian. Johnson remained dangerous, and continued to hit the flashier winners, but Norrie was vigilant, forcing errors, punching his winners and threatening on his serve, then won what seemed like the key game to make it 4-1. The “Oggie, oggie, oggie” chant changed to “Norrie, Norrie, Norrie”, possibly delivered by a well-refreshed trust fund manager, helped propel him into a two-set lead.
The first game of the third contained the rally of the match. Twenty shots, many looking like winners, a phenomenal retrieval from Norrie, a dumfounded Johnson hitting into the net. This seemed to disillusion him and Norrie had another break. Johnson had to win his next service game but didn’t. This was cause for Norrie to dispense with the modest fist and go for the full, both-arms-extended leap. Norrie, Norrie, Norrie.