Can Norrie’s Spectacular Rise Continue Against Red-Hot Title Favourite Djokovic?

Norrie takes on the Serbian in his first grand slam semi-final at Wimbledon on Friday
15:33, 07 Jul 2022

Very few give the British No1 Cameron Norrie much of a chance in his first grand slam semi-final at Wimbledon on Friday against the top seed and red-hot title favourite Novak Djokovic on Friday. 

Conventional thinking suggests the 26-year-old, who has enjoyed his best ever run at a major, will put in trademark performance of skill and industry, but will just find a Serbian who has already racked up a total of 20 slam singles titles to leave him two behind men’s record-holder Rafa Nadal too good and with too many weapons. 

But not much about Norrie’s life has been conventional. Born in South Africa, raised in New Zealand and then university-educated in Texas in the USA, he was more than ready for a life of globe-trotting on the ATP tour – though cycling into the All England Club from his Putney home is a little more down to earth.

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And that down-to-earth, humble character combined with a herculean work ethic leading to a steady rise up the rankings to his current lofty status of world No12 has endeared Norrie to millions of British television viewers with his efforts this year. This has been no overnight success – but the result of years of toil and self-improvement. 

But can he really give the 35-year-old Djokovic a game on Centre Court on Friday over the best of five sets? Not only is Djokovic bidding for a seventh Wimbledon singles title, but a fourth in a row either side of the event cancelled due to Covid. And he has not lost in the tournament since 2017, or on Centre Court for nine years. 

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Two-time champion Andy Murray, who practices with Norrie, says his mate has abilities not least his determination that could conceivably cause an upset. He told The Standard: “We’ve seen some stuff in tennis over the last few years that no one expected, like with Emma [Raducanu, winning the US Open]. 

“Novak had a very tough match against Jannik Sinner in the last round which I don’t think many were expecting. He came through it but it was tight and Cam is right up there with guys like Sinner right now in terms of ranking and results. It’s going to be close. It’s an unbelievably difficult obstacle. 

“Novak has won here six times, been in the final multiple times, I don’t think he’s lost here since 2017 and he was injured there, as well. It is an unbelievably difficult task 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. 

“Every time I’ve been on court with him or around him, he’s had a top-class attitude. 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 with everybody. 

“I know being around Cam and the team of people that he has around him, as well as his mentality, that he will go as far as possible for him and his ability, and that’s the best thing that you can do as an athlete — get the most out of yourself, and he’s doing that.2 

Meanwhile one of Norrie’s trusted team has lifted the lid on his brutal training regime – and extraordinary physical abilities that allow him to perform at his maximum for longer than other athletes could manage. 

Argentine coach Facundo Lugones told The Sun: “Cameron does a lot of fitness — probably more than anyone. It would be hard to beat the number of hours he does. Especially when he is doing some really intense conditioning sessions, he stays in a red zone where the heartbeat is insane. 

“He stays in that area [heartbeat above 200 beats per minute] for long periods. And yet he is still able to play tennis at a decent level when he’s in that state. A normal person can’t even do a minute-and-a-half of that. They would probably, I don’t know, die. They would certainly be close to passing out. 

“That’s why in the fifth set of his quarter-final win over David Goffin he actually looked more comfortable than at the beginning of the match.” 

Norrie is 7/1 to beat Djokovic with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change 

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