Cameron Norrie out to end Novak Djokovic dominance
and live on Freeview channel 276
The British number one has made a habit of surprising people over the past 18 months but all those achievements would be overshadowed spectacularly should he defeat Novak Djokovic in the last four on Friday.
For a player who found full-time tennis overwhelming when he moved from his home in Auckland, New Zealand to London as a teenager and made it to the professional game via US college, there is a real appreciation for what this fortnight has brought so far.
“It’s very cool, especially when I made the quarter-finals the other day,” he said. “I was thinking about when I was a kid and watching guys on TV making the quarter-finals and thinking, ‘Wow, this looks so tough to do, and there’s almost zero chance I’m going to do that’.
“But just to actually be doing it and to be living it and experiencing it is very cool and pretty crazy, actually. And now I have gone one further in the semis, so I think can take a lot of confidence from that.”
Norrie was the highest seed left in his section of the draw from the second round and his highest-ranked opponent so far has been 30th seed Tommy Paul, so Djokovic undoubtedly represents a huge jump in class.
They have only played once before, at the ATP Finals last November, where Djokovic dropped just three games.
“It’s going to be a tough one against Novak obviously, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Norrie.
“I think I’m going to take it to him. I think last time I played him in Turin in another big tournament, he played very good and I think I learned a lot from that. I think I’m going to approach it a little bit differently tactically.”
Djokovic’s record at Wimbledon makes rather frightening reading for an opponent. Since losing to Andy Murray in the 2013 final, he has lost just one completed match – to Sam Querrey in 2016, when he suffered a mental let-down after finally winning the French Open.
Norrie can boast many good people in his corner, including Murray, who is one of the very few players to twice beat Djokovic in grand slam finals.
“Andy has been super supportive to me and my team,” said Norrie. “I’m always practising with him and always reaching out to him for ideas. I think not a bad guy to ask about some tactics.”
As a player known for his work ethic and desire to wring every drop out of his talent, it is no surprise that Murray is willing to invest time in helping Norrie.
“Every time I’ve been on court with him or around him, he’s had a top-class attitude,” Murray told the Evening Standard. “He gets the most out of every practice session, works extremely hard and he’s making the most of his talent and ability.
“He’s one of the best players in the world and he’s been doing it consistently for the last seven or eight months.
“I don’t believe that you get into the top positions in the world without working extremely hard. You would hope every player would be like that and try to get the most out of themselves like Cam, but that isn’t the case.”
Murray cited Emma Raducanu’s shock US Open success as evidence that the script is often torn up in tennis
“We’ve seen some stuff in tennis over the last few years that no one expected, like with Emma,” he said.
“It is an unbelievably difficult ask but the thing that you can guarantee with Cam is he will give himself the best opportunity to win because he will fight for every single point, he’s going to compete extremely hard and he doesn’t make it easy for anyone.”
Norrie will certainly have the crowd on his side, which at times in the past has flustered Djokovic, while the defending champion had to fight from two sets down to defeat Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals.
“I know what to expect in terms of the crowd support,” said the Serbian. “For him, not much to lose. Every victory from now onwards is a big deal for him. I know that.
“But I practised (with him a) few times. I know his game well. He’s been around. Of course I will do my homework and get ready.”
Murray may believe in Norrie but David Goffin, who the British number one defeated in five sets in the quarter-finals, was rather less encouraging about his chances.
“If he’s playing the tennis of his life maybe, and Novak is not feeling well, we never know, but Novak is Novak,” said the Belgian. “He’s playing even better when the crowd is against him. Novak is just an alien, and to beat an alien, I don’t know how.”