Andy Murray is, without a doubt, one of the greatest tennis players ever. The British No. 1 – when he’s not having health issues – is a dominating force on the court and one that many a player looks up to. That’s especially true in the case of British No. 2 Cameron Norrie.
Over the past couple of years, the 26-year-old has been honing his game, amping up his power and quietly moving up the ranks, one ATP after another. And, like any good tennis player, he’s now made his debut in the watch world with Swiss ceramic specialists Rado. Unfortunately, when I caught up with Norrie, it was on the back of a first-round defeat to Russian Karen Khachanov. How’d that feel?
“It was a tough draw, it happens. You can’t have an easy run of it every time. But I feel good, I’ve just gotten into Cincinnati, I have a good practice lined up and feel like I’ve bounced back.” It’s the kind of positive outlook any good sportsman needs and one that, despite harsh lockdown measures, Norrie seems to have kept up throughout the past year – though largely because he got out of dodge in good time.
“Honestly, for me lockdown wasn’t so bad. My parents live in New Zealand, so I went back there when everything kicked off. We were locked down for a month before the country got down to zero cases and I could get back to normal life pretty quickly. I could go to the beach, play some golf and just generally unwind from tennis, something I couldn’t normally do that time of year.”
Time at beach aside, the first few ATPs back in full swing were odd affairs. The US Open, one of the first tournaments back on, was pretty much a ghost town. How did it feel coming back to tennis in the midst of that?
“I missed the ATP tournaments, playing and competing again, which gave me that extra bit of hunger to get back out there. But it’s a bit different with no crowd. It wasn’t so much during the match but more walking around the courts at the US Open. There’s usually an amazing atmosphere but this time it felt surreal without anyone there to support.” Blip in Toronto aside, Norrie’s made no secret that he’s aiming for the top spot, and that means, first and foremost, gunning for Andy Murray’s spot at British No.1.
“That’s the goal anyway, Murray’s such a legend in the game and you can learn a lot from him. I’m actually about to go practice with him after this. For me, he’s the one to beat.” So, will he, like Murray be segueing into fashion? “Ha, I’ll take that if it comes.”
Obviously, there are more players than Murray out there, with as many different styles of tennis. Who then are the other guys he looks up to? “When I was younger I really liked Andre Agassi, the way he played, great return game and backhand. His was one of the first tennis books I ever read and respected him a lot more afterwards, understood that there was a lot more than tennis going on in his life.”
And more recently? What about the top-level players now? “I’ve played Nadal three times this year and not won a set. It was brutal being on the receiving end of how he takes care of business and playing him on clay was special. Then there’s Federer. Amazingly personable guy and an absolutely legend. I played him at Wimbledon this year, was two sets to love, looked across the court and thought ‘man, this guy’s nearly 40 and he’s chomping me out!’”
There’s always a bit of speculation on how long Federer will be in the game and, while he shows no signs of slowing, I thought I’d try and get the inside scoop on when Norrie reckoned the Swiss giant would bow out gracefully.
“Next year would be my guess. But I hope he sticks around, obviously!” Now, we were here for Rado of course, so breaking away from tennis we needed to do our due diligence and discuss precisely what Norrie had on his wrist – and it’s one that many an Oracle Time reader should be familiar with, given it was on one of our recent covers.
“The Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic. I like the skeleton dial to see the movement underneath, that whole overtly mechanical look. Rado do the whole ceramic look so well too, it’s really slick. It’s also nice and light.” Light enough to play in perhaps? “Haha that might be tough, but we’ll see.”
It’s a solid choice, even if I’d rather opt for one of the smaller 37mm models myself, with their charming retro vibes. Still, it’s a great watch, one that Norrie’s dad will most likely be wanting to try out for himself.
“I’m getting into watches more and more, but my dad’s always been a watch nut so I’ll need to take him along when I can make time to visit the manufacturer. He never wanted to splurge on a nice watch so has like 20 different pieces that he obsessively checks the timekeeping on. He’s got one now that he says has lost six seconds in six months and he’s loving it!”
If measuring seconds lost a month is what his dad does at the weekend, what then does Norrie do to relax? Hopefully something a little more relaxed. I can’t imagine he’d want to wind down from tennis by winding up a movement.
“I attempt to surf but I’m not great at it. Otherwise just spending time at the beach, watching Newcastle United or Fulham (where I used to live). I’m reading a lot between tournaments too, there’s not much else you can do with all the travelling in bubbles.” While you might expect his book of choice to be another tennis bio, Norrie seems to want a touch of escapism in his literature – which these days is fair enough. At least he’s gone for a Brit more famous even than Murray.
“I’m actually reading the Harry Potter books, just got up to Prisoner of Azkaban. Britain’s obsessed with them so thought I’d see what the fuss is about. I never actually read them before, just watched the films, so I’m catching up.”
More details at Rado.