Imagine preparing for the biggest match of your life only to realise your tennis shoes have gone missing! Cameron Norrie faced that challenge on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open, but nothing was able to stop the Briton, who captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title despite the mystery of the missing shoes.
“Every day I left my shoes on top of the locker. I think someone, I don’t know who it was, maybe someone from the cleaners or something last night, came through and they threw the three pairs of shoes that I had away,” Norrie said. “I looked all day. I had everyone looking. I don’t know what the people have against the Brits with stealing the shoes, but I didn’t manage to get them back. Just had to go out there with a fresh pair of shoes.
“It was just difficult. Luckily I didn’t have a wedding ring attached. I didn’t lose that, so it was a bonus for me.”
Norrie Scoops Biggest Career Title In Indian Wells
It was reminiscent of an incident earlier in the tournament, when Andy Murray left a pair of smelly shoes under his car to air them out. When he woke up, they were gone, and so was his wedding ring, which was attached to the shoelaces. Eventually, the former World No. 1 recovered the shoes.
Norrie did not, but that did not stop him from rallying past Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets to become the first male British singles champion in tournament history.
“I don’t think it mattered too much. Ideally I like to play with shoes that I’ve been using for maybe five or six hits or practices or warmups. I like to have them a little bit used. They feel a bit heavy in general if they’re a bit newer,” Norrie said. “A couple times I was just thinking about it, probably not the best thing. You don’t want to be thinking about your shoes. A little bit to get used to.
“At one point I said, ‘All right, these are the shoes I got, I’m just going to focus on what I can control right now.’ I wore them in a little bit, came good in the end.”
Norrie began the tournament at a career-high World No. 26 and enjoying the best season of his career. But he had never previously made a Masters 1000 quarter-final. Was the run surprising for the lefty?
“I think it’s a little bit surprising. Starting the tournament, you’re a little bit nervous, you’re not really sure, not used to the conditions. You’re not feeling good. I had a couple of tough matches early on,” Norrie said. “I think it just shows if you stick around in these big events, obviously it was pretty miraculous that all the top guys lost, and when I looked at the four semi-finalists, ‘Hmm, it’s a good opportunity here.’ Didn’t really want to get too far ahead of myself.”
It was been an incredible season for the 26-year-old, who was World No. 71 at the start of the year. Now, Norrie is in 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, just 125 points out of the final qualifying spot for the Nitto ATP Finals.
“I think honestly doing it this way, getting slowly, slowly better every year, improving little things, I don’t think I’ve missed anything, made any big jumps. I’ve been working extremely hard. I’ve got a lot of great people around me that’s wanting the best for me,” Norrie said. “We’re taking care of all the little details on the court, off the court, and we all have the same goal in mind. When that all comes together, it definitely helps.”
The two-time ATP Tour titlist was still taking it all in during his post-match press conference. But one thing was clear: Norrie was over the moon after the tournament of his life.
“What an incredible week I’ve had here,” Norrie said. “I still don’t really know what I’m experiencing. It was an amazing couple weeks and I’m so happy with how I treated all the occasions, all the big moments, all the matches. I’m so happy, so pleased to win my biggest title.”