|Event: All England Club Dates: June 27-July 10|
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Cameron Norrie urged the British public to give him even more vocal support after he became the last local player left in the Wimbledon singles draw.
Norrie was backed by an enthusiastic crowd on Court One as he beat American Tommy Paul 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“Unfortunately I am the last [Briton] standing,” said the 26-year-old, who plays David Goffin in the quarter-finals.
“But I think it’s an even bigger reason for everyone to support me.”
British men’s number one Norrie put on another controlled and clinical display to win in his first Grand Slam third-round appearance.
In the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Norrie will play Belgium’s Goffin, who beat 23rd seed Frances Tiafoe in a long five-set match on Sunday.
The 26-year-old left-hander is the last representative from Great Britain in singles after the loss to Heather Watson.
British Number Four Watson saw his hopes of also reaching a first Grand Slam quarterfinal ended in a straight loss to unseeded German Jule Niemeier.
But Norrie won later on mid-Sunday, the first time there had been a game scheduled on what was previously a rest day, to ensure home fans have someone to cheer on as the singles tournaments continue into the second week.
The ninth seed is the first Briton to reach the singles quarter-final since Andy Murray in 2017 and the first British player since Johanna Konta in 2019.
Norrie subsequently credited the local fans for helping him cross the line against Paul, the 30th seed.
“I think from the first lap everyone has been behind me and supporting me,” he said.
“It shows in the tough moments of matches, especially serving for the match there.
“There was a lot going on in my head, but I managed to stay calm and do it.”
Norrie reaping fruits of maturity
Not many would have predicted that Norrie would become Britain’s top hope on the men’s tour, and even fewer thought he would become a top 10 player in the world.
Fundamentally, Norrie himself believed he could do it and was prepared to dedicate himself to it.
Now, after unlocking new achievements on the ATP Tour in terms of titles and rankings, the hard work put in over the past few years is paying off on the biggest stage of all.
“It’s a shock to reach the quarter-finals for the first time,” he said.
“Playing a match like that, a big one for both of us, playing like I did was really good. I really enjoyed it.”
Norrie doesn’t have the box-office draw of Murray, one of his recent predecessors as Britain’s number one.
But his calm and low-key demeanor is one of his greatest strengths, allowing him to fully focus on improving on the pitch.
“I have improved a lot and matured on the pitch and continued to progress with my team,” he said afterwards.
“I’ve definitely improved mentally over the years and I’m much more mature as a player, and I think it shows.”
A relentless engine is the foundation of his success, backed by solidity from the baseline and the development of a vicious forehand that can dictate points.
That forehand proved to be one of the keys for him in an interesting battle with Paul.
The southpaw claimed his first point with a forehand winner down the line and then broke serve in the first game, never losing after that.
The only break was enough to claim the first set. In the second he needed two, failing to serve at 5-4 but breaking again to win 7-5, to put him within a set of the last eight.
After Norrie earned another break for a 2-1 lead in the third set, she produced a succession of controlled service games to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the 19th try.
The home crowd on Court One erupted in celebration when Paul hit a wide return, and Norrie showed more excitement than usual when he leapt onto the turf and hit the air twice.
“I’ve been patient with myself and have embraced the grass surface – it’s probably not my favorite surface, but it gives me a lot of confidence,” added Norrie.