Norrie takes us to dreamland: Britain’s No. 1 heads to Wimbledon semi-final despite lackluster start
Do we dare to dream? Should we hope? Can we really put ourselves in the agony of another Wimbledon fantasy? Silly question.
So here we are, Day 9, pinning all our hopes on Cameron Norrie’s shoulders as he leaps onto Court One, battling David Goffin – the 31-year-old Belgian joker – in hopes of being the first British man in the semi-finals since 2016.
But wait a minute. Cameron who, I hear you ask? To be honest, despite being ranked number 12 in the world and our number one, we’ve had a steep learning curve when it comes to our newest hero this week.
Cameron Norrie took the win by advancing to Friday’s semi-final after beating David Goffin on Court One. He is the first Briton to reach the Wimbledon singles semi-finals since 2016.
We learned that his nickname is Nozzer. That, when excited, his fans like to clap: “Norrie, Norrie, Norrie, Oi, Oi, Oi!” That he would have been a cricketer if ‘the whole game’ hadn’t been so boring. That he was once a party animal — and “not a Christian at all” — as a student at Texas Christian University, until he crashed his motorcycle and drunk his chin and quit finally to enjoy life as much and embarks on his tennis.
And also, that the reason we’ve never heard of him is because he spent most of his 26 years living in South Africa, New Zealand and the United States (which, presumably, is why his accent veers all over the place). But Cameron’s mother is from Wales, his father from Scotland – where Norrie supports Rangers FC but doesn’t like the weather – and he has a British passport and a flat in south-west London. Which is enough for us.
Frankly, at this stage of the tournament and without any homegrown talent to nurture, he could have grown up over the moon and we would still call him British. So come on, Norrie, Nozzie, Cam, whatever…
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were among the crowd celebrating Norrie’s win on day nine of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London
Norrie’s mother Helen appeared emotional as her son beat Goffin and advanced to the semi-finals
Unfortunately, things did not start well. Because while his backhand is searing, his pace is off, his forehand is all over the place and our Nozzer is making endless mistakes and losing the first set.
For the first hour, the biggest excitement is when he peels off his sweaty shirt to reveal a tan and a thrilling black panther tattoo.
It doesn’t help that the crowd is embarrassingly thin – probably all glued to Djokovic’s epic response from the side on center court. Or that, from time to time, great waves of cheers come to drift.
Have we pinned our hopes on the wrong person? Goffin makes ground meat out of it! He manages to win an uninspiring second set but at the end of the disastrous third, I can’t be the only one feeling rather discouraged.
But, fortunately, not for long. Because in the fourth set, something changes. The seats fill up, the excitement builds, and Norrie’s game finally arrives. And it’s not flashy or jazzy, like its hero, Nick Kyrgios. But strong and stubborn, just like him.
Suddenly, every point is greeted with a roar from the crowd. Every game, with air punches and shouts of ‘Nozziiiiiii!’. Kate and Wills, who took over from center court, cheer and jump up and down as if their seats are on fire.
In the last hour and the mood is amazing – its shitty start, a distant memory.
Louise Jacobi also watched her boyfriend win his quarter-final in a five-set thriller at Wimbledon
We are witnessing one of Wimbledon’s epic contests. Until the biting end, where even Prince William can be heard shouting “Come on!”, Kate shouts “Norrie!” and Cam’s girlfriend Louise Jacobi and her mother Helen hug each other in tears.
And finally, after three hours and 28 minutes of grueling gameplay, and just as we’re dreaming up new names for Henman Hill – Norrie’s Nook? Cameron Highlands? – he only goes and wins. He has a semi-final spot against Djokovic on Friday, for god’s sake.
And as he stands there afterwards – shocked, victorious and in tears as he tells us how bad it started, how he felt unwell and couldn’t find his game – our newest national hero Cameron Norrie couldn’t feel more British wrapped up in a Union Jack, eating a bag of fish and chips and singing God Save The Queen.