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Tennis: Grand Slam hopes rise for Cameron Norrie

Cameron Norrie came from a set down to claim his fifth ATP singles title at the expense of top seed Carlos Alcaraz in Rio on Sunday and the British number one will have high hopes of making his presence felt in the upcoming Grand Slam competitions.

Having finished runner-up to Alcaraz just last week in the Argentina Open, Norrie got his revenge on the Spanish world number two, triumphing 5-7 6-4 7-5 in a thriller in Brazil. 

It was Norrie's first title of 2023 and just the second time he has lifted silverware on clay, having won the Lyon Open in May of last year. 

Given Alcaraz's recent dominance on the slower surface, Norrie should see his confidence on the rise and it shows the Brit's versatility as he is also a strong competitor on both a hard court and grass. 

Now up to world number 12, the next step for Norrie is to break into the top 10 and to be challenging for Grand Slam titles along the way. 

The 27-year-old was a third-round casualty at the Australian Open at the beginning of the year and will be hoping to perform better at the French Open, which gets underway at the end of May, in which he is 50/1 to land the title. 

Norrie was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year, however, so may have more interest in challenging at his home Grand Slam. 

The South African-born star is 40/1 to win at the All England Club this summer, while he is 33/1 to close out the year with victory at the US Open.

Wimbledon may be Norrie's best hope 

Norrie has made the fourth round of a Grand Slam only twice in his career so far but both of those efforts came last season, which indicates the 27-year-old is still improving.

World number one Novak Djokovic has dominated at the All England Club in recent times, taking the SW19 crown in each of the last four renewals. 

However, Djokovic turns 36 in May and his superiority can't last forever, suggesting that Norrie may get some opportunities to delight his passionate home crowd. 

Grass is such a specialist surface that it doesn't suit everybody but Norrie has expressed his liking for it, which was highlighted by last season's run to the final four. 

Norrie came through epic five-set battles with Jaume Munar and David Goffin on his way to the semi-final and he is widely considered as one of the fittest players on the ATP Tour. 

The 27-year-old then claimed the opening set against Djokovic in his semi-final before eventually being beaten in four sets, but the occasion of that semi-final will only stand him in good stead for the future. 

A bit of luck is always needed with the draw but Norrie has shown on countless occasions he can mix it with the best and his recent Rio Open final win over Alcaraz is more evidence of that. 

Odds of 40/1 to win at Wimbledon in July certainly underestimate the Brit's challenge as, unlike some of the leading players on the tour, grass suits Norrie's style and having the support from the home fans is only going to help.

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Although Norrie has now won two clay-court titles, it is tough to see him competing for the French Open title, a tournament likely to be dominated by the big three of Djokovic, Alcaraz and, providing he is fit, 14-time champion Rafael Nadal. 

In five appearances in Paris, Norrie has won just five matches, twice crashing out in the opening round. The Briton made the third-round last season as he was beaten in four sets by Karen Khachanov, suggesting that there is plenty of work to be done before he can make his presence felt in the French capital. 

Norrie's Indian Wells Masters triumph in 2021, which is the biggest win of his career so far as that is one of the showpiece events outside of the Majors, does at least offer some hope for the hard-court Slams. 

The Johannesburg-born man has won three of his five titles on hard courts, with last season's victory at Delray Beach and a win in Los Cabos, Mexico, highlighting he has no problem competing in the heat. 

His run to the fourth round of the US Open last year was his best effort at Flushing Meadows to date as he recorded three straight-set wins, including against impressive Danish youngster Holger Rune, before bumping into Andrey Rublev. 

Given Khachanov, Frances Tiafoe and Casper Ruud all featured in that semi-final of the US Open, there has to be some belief that Norrie can at least at some point emulate their achievements. 

So while Wimbledon may be his best chance of breaking his Grand Slam duck, Norrie shouldn't be completely dismissed in the States.

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