Cameron Norrie is raring to go for the new season as he looks to put burn-out and a disappointing run of form behind him.
The British number one slipped from eighth in the rankings last October to 18th at the end of the 2023 season, losing nine of his last 11 matches.
Norrie started the year in fine fashion, beating Rafael Nadal, Taylor Fritz and Alex De Minaur at the United Cup before winning his fifth ATP Tour title in Rio, defeating Carlos Alcaraz in the final.
But that good form tailed off dramatically, and Norrie told the PA news agency: “It was still a great year but I was disappointed with the end of it.
“I played well in South America then I lost a lot of close matches towards the end of the year and the confidence dropped a little bit. I think that’s tennis. You drop slightly and that’s the difference between being ranked eight and being ranked 18. But I can’t wait for next season.
“I was winning every big match at the beginning of the year – every three-setter, every tough moment I was coming through and I was doing the right thing. It’s a good lesson there to hold onto that confidence and don’t take it for granted.”
Norrie, who is an ambassador for Lexus, is justifiably proud of the work ethic and dedication that has been a huge part of his rise to the top of the game.
But he also acknowledges that his efforts took their toll at the end of the season, with the 28-year-old taking two weeks off after a second-round defeat to Alexander Zverev in Vienna in October before returning for the Davis Cup Finals last month.
Norrie’s loss to Novak Djokovic ended Great Britain’s campaign in the quarter-finals but it was a performance that offered him encouragement for 2024.
“Next year for sure I’m going to look at the schedule and maybe take one or two weeks to really give myself another week’s rest or another week’s preparation to play well at the biggest tournaments,” said Norrie, who has added Australian Stephen Huss to his coaching team.
“It’s a tough one because you never know when you’re going to be burned out, what you can take. We played quite a lot but I was ready for every single week. I think I played more matches than anyone else in the last three years on tour.
“That can add up but I was feeling pretty good throughout the whole year and just a little bit towards the end when I was in Asia I think it just caught up with me a little bit and I just needed a small break. I took two weeks off and I came back and I was so pumped to hit the ball, so clear what to do.”
Norrie has been training at his home in Monte-Carlo, including trekking into the mountains with fitness trainer Vasek Jursik, and will begin his 2024 season on Friday when he teams up with Katie Boulter at the United Cup in Perth, where Britain will take on hosts Australia and the USA.
Reaching the top 10 may already have exceeded most people’s expectations for him but Norrie certainly does not believe he has peaked yet and, with Novak Djokovic turning 37 in May, he hopes he can be one of the players to take advantage of a forthcoming new era in the sport.
He said: “I want to win big tournaments. I just need to look at how to prepare for those, and I need to be playing my best for those.
“I need to stay very patient with myself. My team’s been excellent, I’ve got all the tools, so it’s just about preparing as well as I can and be ready to play well in the weeks where I have opportunities.
“There’s always going to be guys dominating, maybe (Carlos) Alcaraz, possibly (Jannik) Sinner, so there’s always going to be those top guys to beat, but it’s definitely an exciting time in the history of tennis and nice for me to be playing in it.
“I don’t see any reason why (I can’t be a contender). I’ve had wins over Alcaraz and some other top players. Everyone’s improving so it just gets tougher but I’m feeling good.”