Cameron Norrie delivered a Royal command performance in front of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to beat David Goffin in a five-set thriller and surge into the Wimbledon semifinal.
The No 9 seed became the first Briton since 2016 to reach the last four after scrapping his way to the biggest win of his career. The gritty Norrie twice came from a set down on No 1 Court to set up a mouthwatering clash with Novak Djokovic on Friday after a 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory.
It was a triumph for tenacity as Norrie stayed in the fight long enough when his game was misfiring to pounce ruthlessly when it came together. It was a surprise given Norrie’s status as the sole surviving Briton in the singles that the match was played on No 1 rather than Centre but the bedlam was just the same as the fans courtside saluted the understated British No 1.
They were quiet in an opening set settled by a break in the sixth game after a cross-court forehand from Norrie went wide. That was the wing which let him down early on although as well as the technical, there also looked to be tension in his play.
As a veteran of three previous Grand Slam quarterfinals, Goffin had the edge on Norrie – a first-timer – in experience of tennis’s big time and it showed.
Whereas Goffin was holding serve with ease, Norrie was having to fight like an alley cat to cling onto his. He got away with it for a time in the second set – once from 0-40 down – but the ship was taking on so much water that it couldn’t last and Goffin gobbled up a weak drop shot to break to love at the next time of asking and lead 4-3.
It was a shock to the system after much of what had gone before when a double fault from the Belgian handed Norrie an immediate break back and the energetic Norrie set up two break points with some fantastic scurrying to level the match as Goffin netted a forehand.
It triggered the first proper chorus around No 1 Court of ‘Norrie, Norrie, Norrie…oi,oi,oi’ – his backing track at this glorious Wimbledon.
However he won only two points in the first four games of the third set and after a brief rally to break Goffin with a searing backhand down the line, the forehand failed again in the next game as he lost his serve and then the third set 6-2.
Backed into a corner it was now or never for Norrie. He chose now. He had a chance with a break point in the sixth game of the fourth set but could not take it. However he had the scent of blood and after some fantastic retrieving to set up a second break point, took it when Goffin netted a forehand.
When he served out at the third time of asking to level the match again the crowd was on its feet. A gripping decider saw the two men trade blow for blow.
An epic rally saw Goffin close out to edge 4-3 ahead but Norrie, playing his most flowing tennis of the match, levelled at 4-4 and again at 5-5 with the aid of hair’s breadth ace. But then came the killer blow as a majestic game from Norrie saw him break to love and he converted his second match point in the next game to take his place in the last four.