Cameron Norrie exclusive on Novak Djokovic’s improvement, a pizza problem and his worst moment on court

British No 1 Cameron Norrie spoke to Tennis365 in his role as Lexus Ambassador

In part two of our exclusive interview with Lexus ambassador Cameron Norrie, the British No 1 gives us an insight into his diet, his motivations and what he will be working on ahead of the new season.

He also looks back on his best and worst moments on court, with a defeat during his college days almost a decade ago still hitting a raw nerve. 

What is the big focus in your preparations ahead of the new season?

I’m going to do a lot of work on my serve. I only have three weeks, which is not so long, but that is going to be a big goal, especially after coming off the court against Novak (in the Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga). Seeing how well he managed his service games and how well he was hiding his spots, was crazy for me. I think I got to 30 once on his serve and I feel like I was returning well. If I could manage my service games like he does it would be nice.

Has Novak Djokovic got better since you started playing against him? 

His serve has got better, for sure. To get close to Novak, it is all about finding the consistency to do it week in, week out. 

Was the win against Carlos Alcaraz in the Rio Open Final in February the highlight of your year?

I was suffering! It was a pretty long week, but the way I came back in the match to win it was cool. My favourite match of the year was against (Andrey) Rublev in Indian Wells. I played almost the perfect match that day (won 6-2 6-4). I was 6-2, 5-2 up and I served for it, but he came back and I ended up winning 6-4. That was a clean match and after nearly losing in the previous round, it was satisfying to come through against Rublev. 

How important is confidence when you are in the heat of battle and has it ebbed away from you in recent months?

There are two ways you can get confidence. Either on the practice court or on the match court. I feel I was practising really well at the back end of the year, but I lost a couple of tight matches in China. If you win those ones, you start to get momentum and things start happening. I was very close to catching that wave, but credit to my opponents in some big scenarios. I lost in the third set in Shanghai and then lost in Beijing against Rublev. I was playing against the top guys and those matches were close. 

READ MORE: Cameron Norrie exclusive on his biggest lesson from 2023 and why he believes he can become world No 1

Are you looking forward to the Olympic Games next year?

I’ve never played an Olympics before so I’m excited to be a part of that. I love playing for Great Britain and it will be really cool to be in Paris. Speaking to the other athletes will be fascinating and it will be great to represent my country there. 

What is the bond like between the British players in the Davis Cup team? 

It’s fantastic. I think we can win the Davis Cup. We were close this year, but we got a strong Serbia team. Jack (Draper) lost a tight match and then I lost a close one against Djokovic. The other half of the draw was a lot weaker and we could have been in there and got to the Final, but it wasn’t to be. We also got unlucky with injuries as Andy (Murray) and Dan (Evans) couldn’t play, but we will be back next year.

What were your ambitions when you started your tennis career?

I just wanted to play and see where it took me. Then I turned professional and I was winning a lot of matches and you think, okay I’m not too far away from where I need to be here. Then you get into the top 100 and top 50, then top ten. That’s when I thought I could be world No 1. It has gone well for me, but I want more. To get to the semi-finals at Wimbledon (in 2021) and not get through means there is a long way for me to go to win that title, but it’s what I want. 

Have you changed your diet since you became a professional athlete? 

I am gluten-free now. That was more to do with my stomach not being able to deal with what I was putting into it as much as it was for my job. I turned 20 and I couldn’t eat gluten. It was crazy. It’s tough at times because you want to have a burger or a pizza, but you have to look around for something you can have. I miss the simplicity of going to sports a game, walking up to the vendor and having what I want. You need to be a little more selective, but it is something you get used to.

What was the best and worst moment of your career so far?

Probably winning the Wimbledon quarter-final against David Goffin in 2021. I knew it was a big opportunity for me, but Goffin is a top player and it was never going to be easy. You finish that match and don’t really realise what you have just done. It was an amazing moment. The worst moment? I remember losing to an absolute bunny at the French Open one year and that was annoying. Also, when I was at college, I lost to a guy who was at a middle Tennessee state and he beat me 6-1 6-1. It was a terrible match. That was in 2014. It’s tough. I sometimes see the guy. He coaches people now and I can imagine he goes around telling everyone he beat me! I don’t know his name so I can’t tell you who is he. 

Tennis365 reporter Kevin Palmer with British No 1 Cameron Norrie
Tennis365 reporter Kevin Palmer with British No 1 Cameron Norrie at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre