London: Ninth seed Cameron Norrie kept the British flag flying at Wimbledon today by progressing to his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final with a commanding 6-4 7-5 6-4 victory over American Tommy Paul.
Left-hander Norrie is the only local hope surviving at the grasscourt major and for a place in Friday’s semi-finals he will meet Belgian David Goffin, who earlier edged American 23rd seed Frances Tiafoe 7-6(3) 5-7 5-7 6-4 7-5.
Norrie’s victory made him only the fifth British man overall to reach the last-eight stage at the Championships and the first since two-time champion Andy Murray in 2017.
“To make the quarters for the first time, in front of my family and friends here from college is so special,” Norrie said on court amid loud cheers from the crowd.
“In a huge match, to play the way I did, was really good. To execute everything. I really enjoyed it. It is pretty crazy, I have a lot of feelings.” Paul, seeded 30th, had defeated a left-handed player in each of his previous three rounds but failed to find solutions to breach Norrie’s precise delivery and tame his opponent’s accurate forehand in a frenzied atmosphere on Court One.
Norrie broke Paul’s delivery in the opening game to take the lead and then saved four breakpoints on his own serve in the sixth game to keep his nose ahead and take the first set.
Spinning his racquet from one hand to the other while receiving serve, the 25-year-old American could not find a way to dent Norrie’s delivery but looked to be more aggressive overall by approaching the net more often.
But Norrie’s expansive forehand was up to the challenge and a netted return from Paul gave him a break of serve in the third game of the second set. Paul again had two chances to get the set back on serve but the Briton saved both for a 4-2 lead.
With Norrie serving at 5-4, the American finally managed to convert a breakpoint, only to be broken back immediately to hand back the lead, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.
The third set followed a similar script with Norrie once again getting an early break of serve in the third game and the 26-year-old converted his first matchpoint when Paul pulled a forehand wide.
Norrie said he had matured and learnt to be more patient, and asked the crowd to get behind him even more.
“I think from the first round everyone has been behind me and supported me and I definitely think it has helped in some of the tougher situations in matches,” Norrie said.
“When I was serving for the match there, I was going through a lot of different scenarios in my head. I was able to stay calm enough to close it out. It was great and you guys helped me through it.”