It was Emma Raducanu who set in train the events that sees Britain with two singles champions at the biggest tournaments of the past two months.
After winning the BNP Paribas Open in the early hours of Monday, Cam Norrie admitted that he had taken his cue from the new US Open champion.
‘What she has done has been extremely impressive and she inspired me a little bit, that was crazy,’ he said, struggling to take in his achievement. ‘I don’t know what’s more believable, her winning the US Open or me winning this — 50-50 maybe.’
Norrie admitted that he had taken his cue from new US Open champion Emma Raducanu
The surge of British results, which also included Joe Salisbury winning the doubles in New York, has taken the tennis world aback, but then success often breeds success within nations.
In Antwerp Andy Murray, preparing for this week’s European Open, picked up on the theme. ‘I’d be lying if I said I called that to be honest,’ he said of Norrie’s ascent.
‘But I’ve spent a decent amount of time around him and practised with him quite a lot and he works extremely hard. He’s a great example for not just Brits but all tennis players. If you put in the work every day, have an attitude like he has, it can take you a long way.’
Norrie woke up on Monday with an official world ranking of 16, although other figures suggest that this is another case where the Covid semi-frozen formula is not telling the whole story.
For this year alone he is No 10, and his win tally of 47 is the fourth-equal highest on tour for 2021. Now he heads back to Europe and is entered at the indoor events in Vienna, Paris and Stockholm with the goal of qualifying for the eight-man ATP Tour finals in Turin next month.
His 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over the ferociously powerful Nikoloz Basilashvili puts that very much within range. He is a mere 160 points behind the eighth-placed qualifier, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.
Indian Wells was a slightly odd tournament at a one-off time of year and, while it did not have the injured Rafael Nadal or resting Novak Djokovic, every other serious contender on this surface was playing (it would hardly have suited 40-year-old Roger Federer).
Before it started Norrie told Sportsmail that his ambition was to be world No 1. That sounded a little fanciful at the time — not quite as much so now.
A British flag is draped behind Norrie as he celebrates his stunning victory in California
Djokovic and Nadal are in their mid-30s and the only 20-something standing above the rest is Daniil Medvedev. Alex Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas continue to exhibit vulnerability. What stands out about Norrie is not so much his natural talent as his durability and application, coupled with a much-improved left-handed serve and an unorthodox backhand which can fox opponents.
While some players have found this season’s bubbles hard to deal with, Norrie has accepted his lot without complaint. He may be unique among players in that he has not set eyes on his parents David and Helen, British but based in New Zealand, for 16 months.
‘The last time I saw them was just before the battle of the Brits last summer in the UK,’ he said. ‘I’ve missed them a lot, and they miss being at tournaments.
Norrie is now hurtling towards the men’s top 10 and has cemented his spot as British No 1
‘But they are going to come to a lot of events next year. It would be big for them to get to Melbourne in January. It’s looking like New Zealand could open up, fingers crossed.’
Another sign of his calm resourcefulness is that he was not flustered by having his tennis shoes taken from the locker room on Sunday, forcing him to wear new ones for the final.
That did not hinder him winning the £880,000 top prize, although it did not sound like he was intending to go mad with the proceeds.
‘I’ve been using a shoelace as a belt so my girlfriend’s been nagging me to get a new one,’ he confessed. ‘Hopefully I’ll get a decent belt with the cheque!’