Britain’s Norrie walks his own path at Wimbledon ahead of Djokovic semifinal showdown

With Cameron Norrie, what you see is what you get.

Just the fourth British man to make the semifinals at Wimbledon in the Open era, Norrie has cycled to the All England Club each day, racket bag on his back, just going about his business in the way he has always done. No nonsense.

It’s a routine that has served him well throughout his career, from his birth in South Africa to a Scottish father and Welsh mother, to his childhood growing up in New Zealand, to his time at Texas Christian University, to his path into the world’s top 10 and now, to within one match of a Wimbledon final.

Pat Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion and now a commentator for the BBC during the Championships, said the left-handed Norrie had improved hugely in the past couple of years. Cash coached Brandon Nakashima to victory over the Briton in early 2020. “We worked him out tactically, pretty easily,” Cash said. “But he’s improved everything. He’s very impressive now.”

Renowned as one of the hardest workers on the ATP Tour, Norrie took his time to hit his current ranking of No. 12. He broke into the top 100 in May 2018 and has moved through the levels steadily, to the point that now he is on the verge of the top 10 again. Unflappable on court, he has done things his way.

“The first goal, for me, was to break inside the top 100, and then I did that. I think once I did that, then it was top 50, then I did that, I was top 10. Just kind of ticking boxes and slowly progressing. I think it makes it more and more believable as it goes on,” he said.

“I didn’t think, straight out of college, ‘Alright, I’m going to be in the semifinals of a Grand Slam and setting crazy goals like that. I think it’s great to do that, but I think at the time it was pretty unrealistic. So I think I’ve done a good job of keeping expectations low and then fulfilling and maximizing the talent that I’ve got. I think I’ve still got a lot of things I can improve on, which is exciting.”

Having beaten David Goffin in a nail-biting five-setter to reach his first slam semifinal, Norrie now goes up against Novak Djokovic, the six-time champion on a surface on which he has dominated for much of the past decade. Djokovic earned his 11th Wimbledon semifinal berth after rallying from a two-set deficit to defeat 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner on Tuesday.

“For sure. I think it’s obviously one of the toughest tasks in tennis,” Norrie admitted. “I’d say grass is his favorite surface and his record is unbelievable here at Wimbledon. It’s going to be tough.”

Norrie said there would be no room for him to lose focus, as he did on a couple of occasions against Goffin.

“Now looking forward to taking it to him and seeing the level he brings,” he said. “I didn’t really watch too much from him today, but he’s obviously feeling pretty good after coming back from two sets to love. Yeah, it’s going to be a tricky one.”

Against Djokovic, Norrie may need all the support he can get. Thankfully, help could be on hand, with Norrie saying he plans to ask compatriot Andy Murray how best to take on the six-time Wimbledon champion.

“Andy has been super supportive to me and my team,” Norrie said. “You know, I’m always practising with him and always reaching out to him for ideas. Not a bad guy to ask about some tactics. I’m going to enjoy today and maybe reach out to him and see what he’s got.”