Cameron Norrie has been told “the only way is up” after his impressive Davis Cup debut.
The British No 3 threatened to pull off a second stunning victory over a Spaniard on clay in Marbella but fell agonisingly short yesterday.
His four-set defeat by fellow left-hander Albert Ramos-Vinolas saw Norrie lose a pair of tie-breaks and fight toe to toe with the world No 21 before eventually being edged out.
Britain lost the tie 3-1 but found a new star in Norrie, a 22-year-old with a cosmopolitan background, having been born to a Welsh mother and Scottish father in South Africa, raised for much of his childhood in New Zealand, and more recently educated in the United States.
Norrie has also spent time living in London, and he has convinced Great Britain captain Leon Smith he can have a big future in tennis.
Britain’s point in the match was won on Friday by Norrie with his stunning comeback win over Roberto Bautista Agut. There was to be no repeat yesterday as Ramos-Vinolas won 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, but Smith said of Norrie: “I’m really, really proud of him.
“If he needs some sort of reference point to how far he can go, he got it this weekend. The only way is up for him.”
Speaking on BBC 2, Smith added: “I can’t speak highly enough of what Cam’s done all weekend and yet again today. People might have thought it was a one-off what he produced on Friday, but he did it again today against another really high quality player.”
Norrie, who sits 114th in the world, will aim to bump up his ranking to secure automatic entry to the grand slams, having failed to qualify for the Australian Open last month.
He wrote on Twitter: “Incredible experience this weekend in Spain. Couldn’t be more proud of my team. Leaving this tie with a different perspective.”
Andy Murray’s injury-enforced absence from the British ranks, compounded by Kyle Edmund’s own fitness issues, meant few expected Smith’s team to return home in triumph. One singles win was more than might have been foreseen, but it was still insufficient as Spain moved through to a quarter-final against Germany.
Britain face a play-off later in September to determine whether they will be back in the World Group in 2019.
There was high praise for Norrie from team-mate Jamie Murray, who said the newcomer should “be super proud” of his accomplishments.
Smith believes Norrie can leave the British camp in good heart, but knowing he must work on his strength to improve his prospects of more top-level exposure.
Smith added: “Physically, endurance-wise, he looks in really, really good shape. He’s sitting on the bench even at the end there saying, ‘I feel I could run all day’.
“The big thing for him now is he can get a lot physically more powerful so he can get more power in his strokes.” Ramos-Vinolas, who called the match “the most special four hours of my career”, wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations to Norrie for a great match.”
Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova landed the St Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy title yesterday with a comfortable victory over defending champion Kristina Mladenovic.
The Czech two-time Wimbledon champion saw off France’s Mladenovic 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and five minutes.
It made it 21 career WTA titles for Kvitova, who was appearing in a final for the first time since winning the Aegon Classic in June – a triumph which came just six months on from her sustaining career-threatening hand injuries when she was stabbed by an intruder at her home.