Cameron Norrie is into his first grand slam semi-final after a thrilling five set victory over David Goffin in what was a dramatic three and a half hours of enthralling tennis. There was lots of expectation heading into this match with this potentially being Norrie’s best chance to reach a Grand Slam semi-final but Norrie and the Court One crowd produced a flat start to the match.
That was no issue for Goffin though who painted the lines with his forehand from the baseline, being the aggressor in the early stages of the match. Norrie’s forehand has been praised for most of the tournament but it was that shot which produced an array of unforced errors early on.
The Belgian capitalised on Norrie’s poor start to the match as he broke in the sixth game and continued to punish the Brit’s passive play. Impressive serving saw Goffin comfortably take the opening set in 34 minutes. Norrie continued to face early pressure from Goffin as the Court One crowd were responding to the Brit’s need for energy as the ninth seed couldn’t find any sort of consistency.
Norrie saved break point at the beginning of the save and would have to save two more break points in the fifth game as Goffin continued to hit his shots close to the lines with maximum success. The Brit would eventually be broken in the seventh game though as his forehand once again produced errors and struggled to find his range.
That moment seemed to flick a switch within the Brit though as he responded in fine fashion as he applied the pressure on the Belgian and a Goffin double fault sealed the break back for 4-4. The crowd erupted and Norrie used their energy to play more consistent tennis from all areas of the court. Momentum on his side, Norrie produced a stunning twelfth game with some beautifully crafted backhands as he broke to claim the second set 7-5 to Court One’s delight.
In a match full of momentum swings there was another big one at the beginning of the third set as Norrie reverted to the type of passive tennis he had played for a set and a half. Goffin didn’t mind that too much as he continued to be aggressive and take risks as he quickly raced out to a double break lead at 4-0. Despite briefly getting one of the breaks back, Goffin restored the comfortable advantage and sealed a two sets to one lead.
Goffin must’ve been thinking how he hadn’t won the match already while Norrie was contemplating where his impressively consistent tennis had disappeared to. A brief break and Norrie improved his tennis in the fourth set playing with tactical clarity with good depth and pace. The Belgian couldn’t adapt to the Brit’s higher level of play, creating no break points in the fourth set. All of the sudden Norrie was dictating the tempo of the rallies and the crowd observed and reacted as they looked to inspire the Brit to a comeback.
Inspire they did as Norrie increased the intensity on return as he created break point in the sixth game, only to be denied by a trademark Goffin backhand. The Brit wasn’t to be denied for long though and after letting out a huge roar after holding for 4-3, Norrie worked the angles and forced the errors out from Goffin. The Brit broke for 5-3 and held his nerve as this match headed towards a deciding set.
The fifth set would produce drama and entertainment of the highest quality as both players remained firm despite pressure coming from the other end. Clutch serving from Goffin saw him edge to an advantage while the Brit continued to serve well and hit with consistency as well as pace.
Neither player was giving any cheap points away as Court One watched with anxiety as the match looked it was heading to a fifth set tiebreak. However it was Goffin who would blink first as a world-class return game from Norrie sealed the break to love for a 6-5 lead. Norrie eventually held his nerve to seal one of the most emotional victories of his career and a place in his first Grand Slam semi-final.
After the match in his press conference Norrie explained why he was so emotional as he looks ahead to his first grand slam semi-final:
“Yeah, just all the hard work and the sacrifices and everything just kind of all hit me at once,” Norrie admitted.
“Especially the situation, you know, here at Wimbledon in front of my family, my friends, and obviously a lot of people following that match. For me, just kind of thinking back, all the hard work, the sacrifices and everything was just, I kind of didn’t really know what to say obviously.
“Got emotional there, and, yeah, just a crazy day and crazy match to get through, especially with the way that it started. Yeah, that’s the reason why you play the sport.”
Cameron Norrie  v Novak Djokovic  H2H & Match Fundamentals
Djokovic has not had it all his own way but after the season the Serb has had he won’t care too much about that as he’s into his first Grand Slam semi-final of the year. Djokovic will be looking to win a historic 21st Grand Slam and his motivation couldn’t be higher ahead of this match as he is on a 26 match winning streak at Wimbledon.
Norrie alluded to it in his press conference but if he plays the way he did against Goffin in the opening three sets, then he will lose comfortably. The Brit will need to play a mixture of aggressive tennis and stern defensive tennis if he wants to win this match as he will look to use his variety of depth and paces to make Djokovic uncomfortable.
Although Norrie can take a set off the defending champion, the Serb has the confidence and arrogance knowing that he can beat anyone over five sets and that’s what separates him from the rest of the field at the moment, especially on grass.
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