Cameron Norrie tips Alexander Zverev to contend for Wimbledon title

Cameron Norrie believes he may have lost to the eventual Wimbledon champion after succumbing to fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the third round.

Norrie saved five match points in a mammoth third-set tie-break before going down 6-4 6-4 7-6 (15), ending British interest in the men’s singles.

Zverev is having arguably the best season of his career and reached his second grand slam final at the French Open last month.

Norrie said: “It was a really high, high level from both of us. He gave me absolutely nothing. Honestly, I thought I played really well, but I couldn’t really get into his service games. Maybe I could have returned a bit deeper.

“I would have loved to have seen how the match would have gone if I’d won that tie-break, obviously. But happy with the level. I loved it out there. So fun to get to play on Centre Court again against a top player, test myself.

“Honestly, credit to him. He’s playing unreal. For me, he’s looking like one of the big favourites, for sure.”

Norrie arrived at the All England Club having lost five of his last six matches to drop outside the top 40 but he produced some of his best form of the season to beat his successor as British number one, Jack Draper, in round two and leaves with confidence high again.

Pep Guardiola, right, in the Royal Box
Pep Guardiola, right, in the Royal Box (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Definitely I’ll take it,” he said. “The grass season ending like this. I felt like I played my best tennis towards the end. The match with Jack was a high, high level. High, high level today. It’s exactly what I needed.

“I’m really pumped for the rest of the season. I’m working so hard. I’m practising really, really well. Improving all my skills. Hopefully I can put it all together. I think there’s so much to look forward to the rest of the year.”

The Royal Box was packed with stars from the world of sport, as has become tradition on the middle Saturday, and the likes of Pep Guardiola, Roy Hodgson, Sachin Tendulkar, Ben Stokes, Leah Williamson and a host of famous Olympic names all watched the action.

Zverev seemed more excited about playing in front of Guardiola than the result, saying on court: “When I saw Pep I got so nervous for a few games there. Thanks a lot for coming, it’s a great privilege. If you get tired of football, you can coach me any time.”

The Manchester City boss was there to meet Zverev when he came off court, and the German added: “He’s a great guy. I have huge respect for him. Obviously he was an incredible player, also as a manager he’s unbelievable.

“As a person also he’s so welcoming. It’s really a pleasure to talk to him, just communicate. I was very happy to meet him today.”

Norrie held his own for most of the contest without ever really troubling Zverev until the third-set tie-break, with the fourth seed serving 15 aces, winning all but seven points on his first serve and not facing a break point throughout the three sets.

The biggest concern for Zverev was a nasty slip in the fourth game of the second set as he chased down a drop shot.

Alexander Zverev holds his left knee after a fall
Alexander Zverev holds his left knee after a fall (Aaron Chown/PA)

He lay on the ground for a lengthy period clutching his left knee and eventually took a medical timeout at the end of the set to have it strapped, but he is optimistic he has not done any serious damage.

“I overstretched it,” said Zverev. “I do have pain right now. I will check it. I will see what the MRI says. But I personally don’t think that it can be anything too serious because I still played. Hopefully I’ll be fine in two days’ time.”

A pumped-up Norrie fought extremely hard in the third set to reach a tie-break, winning the 11th game with an underarm serve ace that caught Zverev completely by surprise.

“He was starting to return really well on that deuce side,” said Norrie. “I thought it was a good moment to use it. He was standing quite far back. I disguised it quite well. I executed it well.”

The 28-year-old had five chances to take the set in the tie-break but each one was saved by Zverev and a backhand long saw Norrie slip to a sixth successive loss against the German.