Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic beats Cameron Norrie to reach final

Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic beats Cameron Norrie to reach final
Venue: All England Club Dates: 27 June-10 July
Coverage: Live across BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

Britain’s Cameron Norrie was unable to capitalise on a confident start as Novak Djokovic fought back to reach the Wimbledon men’s singles final.

Norrie, 26, was bidding to become only the fourth Briton to reach the final at the All England Club in the Open era.

But after winning the first set, he lost 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 to the top seed.

Serbia’s Djokovic, going for a fourth consecutive title and a seventh overall, will face Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in Sunday’s final.

The 35-year-old will also bid for a 21st Grand Slam men’s title, which would put him one behind Rafael Nadal’s all-time record.

Spain’s Nadal, 36, was supposed to face Kyrgios in Friday’s second semi-final but withdrew from the match on Thursday because of an abdominal injury.

Now Djokovic has the chance to close the gap again on his enduring rival after ending the hopes of Norrie and a nation.

Norrie, seeded ninth, was the first British player since Johanna Konta in 2017 to reach a Wimbledon singles semi-final and was given partisan backing on Centre Court.

The atmosphere became celebratory as Norrie broke three times to take the opening set, before coming increasingly stifled as Djokovic eventually found his level.

Norrie received a rapturous round of applause as he left the Centre Court, including from Djokovic who stood back and applauded his exit

“Cameron didn’t have much to lose, he was playing the tournament of his life,” said Djokovic.

“He’s a great player and I have a lot of respect for him.

“Cameron was dominating the play and I got lucky to break his serve in the second set.

“He gifted me a game and from then I think momentum shifted.”

Norrie’s strong start has British fans believing

Cameron Norrie hits a return against Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi-finals
Cameron Norrie was bidding to become the second British man to reach a Wimbledon final in the Open era – after Andy Murray, who won the 2013 and 2016 titles

Despite the obvious disappointment of being unable to maintain his fast start against Djokovic, Norrie will eventually look back on these two weeks with huge pride.

The left-hander had never gone past the third round at a Grand Slam before, breaking that barrier and then going from strength to strength to reach the last four.

The confidence which he has gained over the past couple of seasons, from rapidly rising up the rankings and winning ATP Tour titles with increasing prestige, was clear in a wonderful first set from the Briton.

After earning two break points in the first game of the match, Norrie took the first by dragging Djokovic around the court and hitting a winner past the Serb as he dashed forward.

Norrie, usually so mild-mannered, spun around in delight to further illustrate the magnitude of the occasion.

After a nervy service game meant he could not consolidate the break, Norrie soon led again and that was helped by Djokovic’s own edginess.

Two more uncharacteristic errors from Djokovic, smacking two forehands from the baseline long, enabled Norrie to break again and move 3-2 ahead.

This time Norrie did hold serve to consolidate the break, more errors from Djokovic’s racquet culminating in a forehand into the net.

Another break for 5-2 left Norrie serving for the set and, after two double faults including one on set point, he hammered down an ace to seal the opener.

That created an jubilant atmosphere, perhaps also with a tinge of disbelief, among the optimistic home fans.

Djokovic fights back after ‘gift’ from Norrie

Still, there was a feeling among the realists that Djokovic could not continue playing that badly and giving opportunities to his opponent.

That proved to be true as the defending champion improved his level.

Returning to the sun-filled court with a cap for the start of the second set, Djokovic served better and only dropped one point in his first four service games.

More pressure began to build on Norrie’s serve and as a result that drew more mistakes from the Briton, particularly on his forehand.

Djokovic finally took his fourth break point of the set for a 5-3 lead when Norrie hit a forehand long, but the damage was done by missing a volley which he would expect to put away for 15-30.

Norrie started the third set by winning a point which left Djokovic clapping his strings but the game quickly switched into the Serb’s favour.

Djokovic took a third break point to move ahead in the match for the first time and, after winning seven of the next nine games, it looked unlikely Norrie would be able to fight back to win.

He served out victory to put himself into an eighth Wimbledon men’s final, a tally only bettered by Roger Federer’s 12 appearances there.

It is also his 32nd Grand Slam final overall, moving him one clear of Federer as a men’s record.

“Of course I’ve had many Grand Slam semi-finals but it is never easy walking out on court,” said Djokovic.

“You have a lot of pressure and expectations, from yourself and others.

“I was a bit tighter at the beginning of the match. Cameron was dominating the play and I felt like I got lucky in the second set to break his serve.

“He kind of gifted me a game and since then the momentum shifted a bit. That’s the significance of the semi-finals of a Grand Slam.”

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