Tennis: Brit Cam Norrie aims to use ASB Classic 'homecoming' as springboard to success in 2024

Cam Norrie hopes a New Zealand 'homecoming' at the ASB Classic will help him recapture some momentum after a lacklustre end to a year that had promised much more.

Using his berth in the Auckland final as a springboard, Norrie powered into 2023 with a win over the great Rafael Nadal, before making the final of the ATP event in Buenos Aires.

He then dispatched Spanish phenomenon and eventual Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz en route to victory in the Rio de Janeiro tournament.

But Norrie couldn't maintain that pace, dropping off with a string of losses, which he puts down to the accumulation of a torrid schedule in recent years.

"I think it was just a pretty long year for me," Norrie said shortly after touching down in New Zealand.

Cam Norrie in action in Auckland last year.
Cam Norrie in action in Auckland last year. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I was a little bit burnt out towards the end of the year and I think just played so many matches over the last three years.

"But I think I really had a good pre-season and stayed in one place and rest as much as I could, and really just trying to evolve and work on my game and just try to get to the next level."

Norrie was born in South Africa but raised in Auckland, before transferring to the Great Britain programme as a teenager after moving to the UK with his British parents. He is now the top-ranked British player, currently sitting at world No.18.

Held in the city he called home for many years, the ASB Classic has always been a sentimental favorite for Norrie and his performances on the court have matched that level of comfort, making the final twice in the past four years.

With both of his parents having relocated back to the UK, he admits this visit has a "strange" tinge to it compared to recent visits.

Nevertheless, the 28-year-old insisted on ensuring Aotearoa remained a priority on his calendar, despite being scheduled so close to the Australian Open.

"It's kind of strange - my parents now not being here anymore," said Norrie, who grew up in New Zealand, before moving to England at the age of 16.

"But it's still a special tournament for me and obviously growing up here playing a lot here. So, it feels good to be back, looking forward to it."

In last year's final, Norrie won the first set before dropping the folloiwng two in a defeat to frenchman Richard Gasquet, who will return to Auckland to defend his title.

In his first vist to the final in 2019, he was dispatched in straight sets by American Tennys Sandgren

"I've come close to winning it a couple of times now, so it would be nice to get this trophy," he admitted.

"I love travelling, I love playing tournaments. I really wanted to prioritise Auckland as well, to come here.

"I know it's always tough to play the week before a slam, but I felt I needed a couple more matches and I wanted to come here to try to win this tournament."

Second-seed Norrie was on hand to assist with the men's draw on Saturday, pulling himself a first-round bye.

He'll play the winner of the match between American JJ Wolf and a yet to be determined qualifier in the round of 16.

Other highlights of the draw include Gael Monfils – who earned automatic entry after a pair of injury withdrawals - against Hungary’s Fabian Marozsan, while New Zealand's KP Pannu takes on Max Purcell.