Cameron Norrie marches into Queen's final and aims to break ATP title duck

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Cameron Norrie marches into Queen's final and aims to break ATP title duck - SHUTTERSTOCK
Cameron Norrie marches into Queen's final and aims to break ATP title duck - SHUTTERSTOCK

In four increasingly successful seasons on the ATP Tour, Cameron Norrie has become the stealth bomber of British tennis, quietly downing better-known targets while attracting very little attention.

This situation suits his understated character, which was forged in the swank-free climate of Auckland, New Zealand. But if Norrie – who is 25 – should win Queen’s on Sunday, he will not be able to avoid the spotlight for much longer.

After a straight-sets win over Canada’s Denis Shapovalov – a perfect example of the sort of celebrated and eye-catching player he enjoys dismantling – Norrie is guaranteed to climb to at least No34 in the rankings and thus claim a Wimbledon seeding for the first time.

Even more remarkably, he also stands at No12 in the Race to Turin. At this rate, it would only take a couple of injury-related pull-outs to send him to the end-of-year ATP Finals as an alternate.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Norrie after his 7-5, 6-3 win over Shapovalov. “I played very, very good today. I was extremely large on some big points. I am so pleased to be through to the final here. I cannot even describe it.”

This is a rare feat for a British player, previously accomplished by only two men in the 21st Century. The first was Tim Henman, whose title hopes were frustrated by a pair of nemeses in Pete Sampras and Lleyton Hewitt. The second was Andy Murray, who wound up lifting the trophy a record five times.

No-one would have expected Norrie to go this far at the start of the week. We knew him as a tennis terrier, the sort of player who would sink his teeth in your trouser leg and hold on. Yet grinding points out is rarely a winning strategy on grass, where the ball skids on quickly and rewards aggressive strokeplay. Indeed, he had only once put together back-to-back wins on the surface until this week.

Confidence is a wonderful thing, however. Coming into the tournament with 25 wins already to his name – a record only bettered by Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas – Norrie has been a different man. Yes, he has still focused on steadiness, and keeping freebies to a minimum. But when the ball was there to attack, he was ready to step forward and drive it up the line.

Both sets hinged on a spectacular backhand pass. The first concluded the opening set and left a despairing Shapovalov spread-eagled on the grass as it landed bang in the middle of the sideline. The second earned Norrie a break for 5-3, whereupon he served out nervelessly for his place in the final.

Can he go on to land his first ATP title? It is his third attempt in the space of seven weeks, after previous near-misses at a pair of clay-court events in Estoril and Lyon.

His opponent will be Matteo Berrettini, the Italian who beat Alex de Minaur by a 6-4, 6-4 scoreline and has yet to drop a set all week. This will be a significant test, because Berrettini has been denting the backboard with his 140mph serves and his coruscating forehand, while showing surprising touch with his delicate backhand slice.

Berrettini has also been a serial detonator of British hopes, having eliminated Andy Murray in the second round and Dan Evans in the quarter-final. On the upside, this does at least supply Norrie –who gets on well with both men – with a readymade brains trust on the best tactics to employ.

“I have watched him a little bit throughout the week,” said Norrie of Berrettini. “He is one of the best players on the tour at the moment. Huge serve, good forehand, likes the drop-shot. Maybe I will have a chat to Evo and Andy to see if they have any tips for me.”

Meanwhile, Heather Watson continued what has been a restorative week as she beat Donna Vekic by a 6-4, 6-3 margin. This made Watson only the third British woman to reach the semi-finals in Birmingham – but she was later eliminated by Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in straight sets. The recent wet weather had forced the tournament to catch up by combining two rounds on the same day.

“It feels awesome,” said Watson, who arrived in Birmingham with only four wins to her name all season. “I think that’s the best tennis I’ve played in a long time so I’m really happy. I got a bit nervous at the end and Donna really made we work for it but it gives me a lot of confidence that I got over the line there. I’ve been serving well for the last week or so, so I’m trying to take as much advantage of that as I can.”

Semi-finalist Cameron Norrie left flying the flag for British hopes at Queen's

By Kate Rowan

Cameron Norrie holds all British hopes at this year's Queen’s Club Championships as he defeated 19-year-old compatriot Jack Draper 6-3, 6-3 to advance to Saturday’s semi-finals.

The 25 year-old British No2 will not know his opponent until Saturday as the match between American Frances Tiafoe and Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who is a set to the good, was suspended after a day where four and a half hour's play was lost due to heavy rain in west London.

However hope of two Britons reaching the semi-finals of Queen’s for the first time in a decade were ended after British No 1 Dan Evans was beaten 7-6, 6-3 by Italian world No9 and the tournament’s top seed Matteo Berrettini.

Draper and world No41 Norrie played the second set in fading light. The match had looked like it could be a speedy affair as Draper struggled to cope with the accuracy of Norrie’s serve.

Norrie raced 4-1 up in the second but Draper took advantage of his fellow countryman struggling to pick the right shots. Norrie showed his experience, with this his fourth semi-final this year, while the South African-born, New Zealand raised player also reached the final of the Lyon Open in April.

Norrie complemented Draper’s efforts. “Huge congratulations to Jack on his week, he had two huge wins this week. He is going to have a wonderful career. It wasn’t easy today but I managed to play some really good tennis towards the end of the first set and towards the end of the second,” he said. "Considering the conditions weren’t easy we both hit the ball well. It wasn’t easy to call in the end, he kept coming at me but I am really pleased to be through.”

Evans acquitted himself well in the first set against Berrettini saving eight break points but the 25 year-old Roman, who vanquished Andy Murray on Thursday, used his monster serve to grind down Evans.

Berrettini will face Australian Alex de Minaur who beat Croatian Marin Cilic in the first semi-final on Saturday.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting