British Tennis Is In Safe Hands As Cameron Norrie Breaks Top Ten

Along with Raducanu and Draper, a new generation are finding their stride
16:00, 04 Apr 2022

Emma Raducanu’s US Open triumph in September was a monumental piece of British sporting history and it seems to have lit a spark for tennis in Great Britain which offers such promise for the future.

The 19-year-old’s appearances on court following her stunning victory at Flushing Meadows, New York, have not been quite as mesmerising, but at still such a raw age, her tennis will only improve with the more experience she gets. Her US Open title alone should be enough for fans to realise that there is an exceptional player there and once she settles on the pro tour and her natural ability is nurtured, she will be a frightening player. Her shining moment has already put British tennis into the spotlight and she appears to have started something that could become quite special.

The teenager laid the groundwork for Brits to make a splash on the professional tennis circuit and she has certainly helped push the men to another level with Cameron Norrie breaking into the top 10 rankings for the first time in his career. Britain’s number one has been patient in waiting for this moment but it is something that he has thoroughly deserved for his performances over the last 12 months, climbing two places. He has become the fourth British man to make the coveted top-10 list, behind Greg Rusedski (career-high No. 4 in 1997), Tim Henman (career-high No. 4 in 2002), and Andy Murray (career-high No. 1 in 2016).

In February he claimed his third career title at Delray Beach, following an Indian Wells triumph in October last year (the first Briton to do so), and he then reached the Mexican Open final but was defeated by an in-form Rafael Nadal. He won two of the six finals he reached in his breakthrough season last year and he has been the best of British since November, which came four years after turning professional. Three-time Grand Slam winner Murray spoke of Norrie highly last year, saying: “He’s a great example for not just British players but all tennis players to look at and go, if you put the effort in day in, day out and properly dedicate yourself to the sport, have an attitude like he does, it can take you a long, long way.”

After winning the Battle of the Brits against Jack Draper in the Miami Open, Norrie tipped his 20-year-old compatriot and fellow left-hander to break into the top 10 in his career, but 2022 is his time. His run in Florida came to an end when he lost to eventual finalist Casper Ruud in the Round of 16 but his impressive start to the season has warranted his entry into the top 10 and this milestone comes as a result of his determination and skill. He may have been a late bloomer, but his tenacity and energy is a tough test for any fellow professional.

The next step for the 26-year-old will be to have a stronger impact in Grand Slam tournaments, having only ever reached the third round. With the French Open and Wimbledon just around the corner, Norrie will be hoping that his start to the year and his new ranking can help give him the lift he needs to make an impact on the biggest stage.

In another piece of positive news on the British tennis scene this week was that Draper bounced back from his Miami Open exit in style with a title victory in the Saint-Brieuc Challenger, his fourth ATP Challenger title of 2022, following up three title wins in Forli, Italy. The Sutton-born star has taken centre stage in this arena, becoming the first player to win four titles in the first quarter of the year in history and he has risen to a career high ATP ranking of 124. In front of a full crowd at the Open Harmonie Mutuelle, Draper outlasted Zizou Bergs 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the final which lasted two hours and 30 minutes.

He has now shown he can dominate the Challenger circuit outside of Italy and this successful start to 2022 will only help his game when he returns to Masters 1000 tournaments and of course, the Grand Slams. Like Raducanu, Draper still has years of his career left and thus the time to hone his abilities that will help him carry over his Challenger tour form over to the bigger stages. He has already demonstrated his ability to compose himself in crunch matches, while outclassing some strong players on his routes to victory. So when his tennis matures, he will be an extremely dangerous opponent.

This has been an excellent start to the year for British tennis and there is no denying it is in a strong position right now. The talent on the circuit has created a positive atmosphere heading into Wimbledon this year with these talented players flying the flag for Britain.  When Murray was on top, he was flying solo for Britain, and now there are a host of home players in a position to deliver success, with Raducanu and Draper still in the adolescence of their careers - it bodes well for the future. 

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