Cameron Norrie failed to capitalize on a promising start as Novak Djokovic advanced to the Wimbledon men’s singles final.
Norrie, age 26, was attempting to become only the fourth British golfer in Open-era history to reach the All England Club final. After winning the first set, he was defeated by the top seed 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4.
In Sunday’s final, Djokovic, who is seeking a fourth straight victory and ninth overall, will face Nick Kyrgios of Australia.
The 35-year-old will also compete for his 22nd Grand Slam men’s title, which would place him one title behind Rafael Nadal’s record.
Nadal, 36, was scheduled to meet Kyrgios in the second semi-final on Friday but withdrew on Thursday due to an abdominal issue.
Now that Norrie’s and a nation’s aspirations have been dashed, Djokovic has the opportunity to reduce the distance with his everlasting opponent.
Norrie, seeded ninth, was the first British player to reach the Wimbledon singles semifinals since Johanna Konta in 2017 and had enthusiastic support on Centre Court.
As Norrie broke three times to win the opening set, the crowd erupted in jubilation. However, as Djokovic ultimately got his footing, the jubilation waned.
As Norrie departed the Centre Court, he was met by thunderous acclaim, including from Djokovic, who stood and applauded.
Cameron had little to lose; he was playing the tournament of his life, according to Djokovic. I have a lot of respect for him as a terrific athlete. I was fortunate to break Cameron’s serve in the second set since he was dominating play.
“After he gave me a game, I believe momentum shifted.”
Despite the obvious disappointment of failing to maintain his quick start against Djokovic, Norrie will look back on these two weeks with immense pride.
The left-handed player, who had never before advanced past the third round in a Grand Slam, broke that record and continued to improve to reach the semifinals.
The confidence that the British player has earned over the previous several years as a result of rapidly climbing the rankings and winning increasingly prestigious ATP Tour titles was evident in his magnificent opening set.
After gaining two break points in the opening game of the match, Norrie converted the first by dragging Djokovic around the court and then smashing a winner past the Serb as he ran.
Norrie, who is always so mild-mannered, whirled around in glee to emphasize the significance of the event. After a nervous service game prevented him from consolidating the break, Norrie quickly regained the lead, which was aided by Djokovic’s unease.
Norrie regained the lead, 3-2, when Djokovic committed two more unusual baseline forehand errors, which let Norrie to break serve and pull ahead.
This time Norrie held serve to consolidate the break, as Djokovic’s racquet continued to commit errors, ending in a forehand into the net.
When two double faults, one of which was on set point, Norrie smashed an ace to win the first set after serving for the match at 5-2. Among the enthusiastic home fans, this created a mood of jubilation, possibly with a touch of incredulity.
Realists, though, believed that Djokovic could not continue playing so poorly and allowing his opponent opportunities.
This was accurate as the defending champion increased his performance. Djokovic served well and missed only one point in his first four service games after donning a cap and returning to the sunny court to begin the second set.
The increased pressure on Norrie’s serve caused the British player to make more errors, notably with his forehand.
Norrie’s long forehand gave Djokovic his fourth break opportunity of the set and a 5-3 lead, but the damage was done when he missed a volley he would have been expected to convert for 15-30.
Norrie began the third set by winning a point that left Djokovic clapping his hands, but the Serb rapidly regained control of the match.
Djokovic converted a third break point to take the lead for the first time in the tournament, and after winning seven of the next nine games, it appeared improbable that Norrie would be able to recover and win.
He served out the victory to go to his eighth Wimbledon men’s final, second only to Roger Federer’s 12 appearances.
Additionally, this is his 32nd Grand Slam final overall, surpassing Federer by one. Djokovic stated, “I’ve been in many Grand Slam semifinals, but it’s never easy to walk out on court.”
You are subject to a great deal of pressure and expectations from yourself and others.
I was somewhat more tense at the start of the match. In the second set, I felt fortunate to break Cameron’s serve, as he was dominating the action.
“Since he gave me a game, the situation has changed somewhat. This is the significance of the Grand Slam semifinals.”