Cameron Norrie admits that he faces “one of the toughest tasks in tennis” when he takes on defending champion Novak Djokovic in the men’s singles semi-finals at Wimbledon today. The British No.1 has, however, vowed to “take it” to the 20-time grand slam winner on Centre Court.
Norrie, 26, reached the semi-finals after a five-set thriller against David Goffin. The ninth seed is the first British male to reach the Wimbledon singles semi-finals since Andy Murray in 2016 and the first British player since Johanna Konta in 2017.
Top seed Djokovic, 35, is seeking a seventh men’s title at Wimbledon – and fourth successive crown. Norrie told the BBC that it’s “going to be a tough one” with the Serb’s record at SW19. “Obviously, grass is his favourite surface. I would say [it’s] one of the tougher tasks in tennis.”
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The winner of today’s match will play Nick Kyrgios in the Championship final on Sunday. Australian Kyrgios received a walkover in the semi-finals after Rafael Nadal withdrew because of an abdominal injury.
Can Norrie stun Novak?
Tim Henman, who reached four Wimbledon semi-finals in his career, said that while Djokovic is the “heavy favourite”, Norrie has “always got a chance”. The BBC commentator added: “It’s a two-horse race. We’ve seen these upsets in the past and, fingers crossed, Cam can provide one of the biggest upsets.”
The duo have only faced each other once before, a group stage tie at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals which Djokovic won 6-2, 6-1. Coming into the game with a 26-match winning streak on grass, Djokovic “will look to replicate that performance”, said Kiril Anastasov on LastWordOnTennis. Norrie will “rely on the support of the British crowd to spoil the party and end the streak”.
Djokovic “holds the edge in pretty much every single category” against the Brit, said Aman Mohamed on SportsKeeda. Norrie will hope to make it as tough as he can for the six-time Wimbledon champion, but it “likely won’t be enough against a man determined to make yet another final at SW19 – Djokovic to win in four sets”.
The Brit will have the crowd on his side, but will it be enough, asked Liam Elyes on SportsChatPlace. “This is as straightforward as they come.” Djokovic is “a much better player” than Norrie and while the left-hander is a “very tough opponent” and “won’t give up without a fight”, even the “raucous crowd won’t be enough here”. Djokovic winning “is a certainty”, in “three, maximum four” sets.
Expect Djokovic to “cruise into the finals”, said Derek Ringer on SportsKeeda. The Serbian has been “battle tested” and “proven capable” of winning the big matches this tournament. “Not only should he win but he should dominate.”
World No.3 Djokovic has not lost a semi-final match or final at Wimbledon since 2013, and “he is not about to now, even if the pro-Norrie crowd will be against him”, said Mike Spector on Oddschecker.com. “We expect Djokovic to know how important it is to take the crowd out of the match with a convincing first-set victory en route to an anti-climatic straight-set win.”
According to Oddschecker.com, Djokovic is the overwhelming bookies’ favourite to reach Sunday’s Wimbledon final. He’s priced at 1/12, while Norrie is a 11/1 shot.
‘Norrie Knoll’ fans hail their new hero
The Briton’s run to the last four has seen Wimbledon’s “iconic” hill get a new name, said Ash Rose on MailOnline. For years it was known as “Henman Hill”, then “Murray Mount”, but now it’s been renamed “Norrie Knoll” in honour of the “new hero of SW19”.
The atmosphere on The Hill for Norrie’s win against Goffin was “reminiscent of the glory days” of Henman and Murray, Rose added. It promises to be “bouncing” for today’s semi-final as Norrie aims to become only the second British player of the modern era to reach a Wimbledon final.
When asked about The Hill’s new nickname, the player himself gave a “quote of the day” contender, said Stephanie Livaudais on Tennis.com. “I don’t even know what a knoll is,” Norrie replied laughing. “I would say it doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as Henman Hill.”
‘Cool, understated demeanour’
Whatever the result in the semi-final, it has been a superb 12 months for Norrie. At the start of 2021 he was 74th on the ATP rankings – today he’s No.12 in the world, after reaching a career-high No.10 in April. Last season he won two singles titles – Indian Wells and Los Cabos – and has followed that up with two more – Lyon and Delray Beach – in 2022.
“Not many” would have predicted Norrie would become the “leading British hope on the men’s tour”, said Jonathan Jurejko on the BBC. And “even fewer” must have thought he would become one of the world’s top ten players. He may not have the “box-office attraction” of three-time grand slam champion Murray, but his “cool, understated demeanour” is “one of his biggest strengths” and allows him to “focus completely on improving on the court”.
With his cool demeanour, focus and support from the fans on Norrie Knoll, the 26-year-old will hope to cause a huge shock against the defending champion and write a new chapter in British tennis history.
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