Cam Norrie breaks new ground today as he plays in his first Grand Slam Semi-Final, taking on the reigning Champion and World Number 3, Novak Djokovic.
Norrie turned professional in 2017 after three years of study at Texas Christian University where he became the top-ranked male college tennis player in the US and completed an undefeated run in 2016-17s Big 12 season.
Less than one year into playing professional tennis and Cam finds himself in the Top 100 in May 2018, and less than a year later breaks into the Top 50 for the first time (March 2019). The last 18 months, however, have been exceptional, with Norrie climbing from No.74 to No.10 in the world (in April 2022).
In this period, Cam made 9 Finals and won 4 Titles, including the Masters 1000 at Indian Wells in October, notching up 4 wins against Top 10 opponents throughout the season.
Cameron Norrie Ranking Progression: Aug 2016 - Present.
Whilst Norrie sits firmly with the world’s best, the grass-court season is a challenge of its own. Between 2017 and 2019, Cam made it past Round 2 on one occasion only (Eastbourne, 2018). Persistence is key though, and 2021 saw Cam make the Final at the Queens Club Championship and the 3rd Round of Wimbledon for the first time.
What changed though? Cam has upped his game around his serve and return over the years, climbing the ATP Stats Leaderboard in the process on the Serve and Return Ratings, which are based on key metrics in both areas. In 2019, Cam ranked 81 on the leaderboard for serve statistics during the grass-court season, boosting his rank to 17 in 2021.
His stats improved across all areas, with more First Serves in (+5%) and winning more points behind them (+3% increase in points won). His Second Serve strengthened too, winning 7% more points, leading to him winning 9% more service games - a crucial factor for winning those close head-to-head battles.
Most notably across the 2021 grass-court season, Cam found himself in an attacking position after his First Serve on 40% of his service points played, and in a neutral position after 53% of First Serve points. What does this mean? This information highlights that Cam has more opportunities to play offensively and dictate play when serving, something he has clearly capitalised on.
Behind his Second Serve, he is in a neutral position on 77% of the points too; this means that his opponents are rarely able to maximise their return on any Second Serve opportunities. Not only does this benefit Cam as the server, it puts additional pressure on his opponents, making it harder for them to get a look-in and forcing them to push too hard when trying to create chances.
Norrie's Position After First Serve - Grass, 2021.
Norrie's Position After Second Serve - Grass, 2021.
Cam’s ATP Return Rating data paints a similar picture, improving his ranking from 79 to 19 in the same two-year period. Most importantly, Cam’s 1st Return Points Won % increased by 7% and his 2nd Return Points Won by 4%. His Break Points Converted % increased by a huge 15%, improving his Return Games Won % increase by 10% too.
On a grass court surface that is very fast and in a sport where 2nd Return Points Won is a key performance indicator for match success, these are significant improvements in performance. This data shows that Cam has developed this weapon so well, that he has the ability to neutralise both First and Second Serves, and successfully convert those break point opportunities.
Fast forward to Wimbledon 2022 and Cam finds himself up against David Goffin in the Quarter Finals. In this match, Cam outperformed his serve stats from the last 52 weeks on tour (across all surfaces) on 1st Serves Won and maintained his stats for 2nd Serves Won. Whilst Norrie hit fewer Winners than his opponent (28 compared to Goffins 38), he also kept his Unforced Errors down too (39 compared to 56). A close match lead to a fifth set, whereby both players served really well and held each service game comfortably.
In the fifth set, Cam’s quality of serving down the T increased, making more serves into that zone, and winning all x9 points too. Not only did he step up with his First Serve accuracy, but he also switched up his Second Serve on the Deuce court, hitting 20% more serves down the T compared to Body serves in the previous four sets. This, on top of avoiding any Double Faults, and holding serve to love at 4-5 in the 5th set, put significant pressure on Goffin. A service game hold delivered this way, at a late stage of the match, demonstrates Cam’s great skill and performance levels under pressure.
Cam showcased brilliant Tennis IQ in the game at 5-5, choosing to neutralise in the rally and force Goffin to attack and play more aggressively, ultimately leading to multiple Unforced Errors. Goffin made x56 Unforced Errors throughout the match, x20 errors in the 5th set but crucially, x3 of these errors at 5-5. Norrie had one break-point opportunity in all of the fifth set (5-5, 00-40) and he took his chance to break Goffin and set himself up to serve out the match and take the win.
Today, Cam has it all to play for. The first British male to make the SF at Wimbledon since Andy Murray in 2016, and if the normal 720 points were on offer for his success so far, he would be ranked 8th in the world on Monday. There is a lot to look forward to in this match, with only one previous head-to-head (ATP Finals) and Djokovic playing a 4-set and 5-set match in the last two rounds, there are opportunities to test Novak in front of a roaring British crowd on Centre Court.
If you'd like to get in touch and discuss the progression of athletes and how Performance Analysis can influence and accelerate their evolution, just click on let's talk.