If Cameron Norrie needed an incentive to pull out all the stops at Wimbledon this year, he need only look at the house prices around the All England Club grounds.
Normally at this time of year, the British players wax lyrical about the joys of being at home for the five weeks of the grass court season. An itinerant group of workers, the sheer bliss of being in one place for more than a month is almost as appealing as winning the tournament outright. But not for Norrie.
Born in South Africa to a Scottish father and Welsh mother, he was raised in New Zealand and his game forged in the USA at Texas Christian University. Norrie calls his suitcase home but would like to make London his permanent base with Wimbledon at the top of his wish list. But with the average house price in Wimbledon Village around the £2.5 million mark, he may have some saving up to do.
“I will have to have a big Wimbledon to be able to get a place in Wimbledon,” he said with a wry smile. “That’s the plan. It’s a good incentive, 100 per cent.
“I’m on the road constantly. I’m currently looking for a place to buy around London. It’s pretty expensive. As a tennis player, it’s tough to find a true base because you are on the road so much. But I think London works perfectly for me because I’m in Europe and I’m going to be here for the majority of the year.”
This summer marks the end of his first full year on the professional circuit. A year ago, he needed a wild card to get into the main draw in SW19; this year he is there by right with a world ranking of No 79.
His learning curve has been steep, stepping away from the structured confines of university life and out into the cut-throat world of the professional game. But Norrie is a bright man and he has learned quickly. Grass may not be his best surface (his happiest hunting ground is on a hard court) but, then again, he had not played on clay until this year and still reached the semi-finals in Lyon and the second round of the French Open.
“It’s pretty surreal now, coming out of college and playing Wimbledon last year, and then Wimbledon again this year off my own ranking,” he said. “So I’m very proud of myself. I have a different perspective coming into Wimbledon this time compared to last year.
“I think it’s a good period to work on my game and on my mentality. It’s a good four or five week period, a transition period for my game when I can work on being a little bit more aggressive.”
He can use that aggression today against Aljaz Bedene, the former British No 2 who now represents Slovenia, the country of his birth. Bedene had his best Wimbledon last year, reaching the third round, but he is not naturally suited to the grass courts. It is, then, a winnable match.
According to the seedings, Norrie could face Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round, except that the Spaniard has never won a match at the All England Club. But then, in the third round, there stands John Isner and his huge serve. Perhaps that deposit for a house in Wimbledon will have to wait a while. Not that Norrie minds. He is relishing every challenge put in front of him.
“It is very exciting for me, it’s still new to me,” he said. “Grass isn’t my most favourable surface but it’s a great challenge for me. I think I can play well and, if I’m serving well, I think I’m going to be dangerous out there and pretty tough to beat. I’m really looking forward to it.”