Cameron Norrie benefits from royal support as Wimbledon dream continues

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Cameron Norrie is in uncharted waters at Wimbledon - GETTY IMAGES
Cameron Norrie is in uncharted waters at Wimbledon - GETTY IMAGES

Cameron Norrie was down and out, staring down defeat. Then he seemed to remember he was playing in front of a home crowd at Wimbledon – one which included royalty – and suddenly, everything changed.

If Norrie wanted a measure of how big an occasion his first quarter-final at Wimbledon was, seeing the Duchess of Cambridge swap the Royal Box for the more egalitarian surrounds of No 1 Court at the start of the fourth set would have proved a good start. Though he was not immediately aware of her presence, joined by Prince William soon after, it was not long after that he began geeing up the crowd as he surged to stop David Goffin stealing his moment.

While the Government capitulated in a series of dramatic resignations in central London, British pride was alive and well at the All England Club as Norrie staged a dramatic comeback. Finally, the Wimbledon crowd fell in love with their British No 1.

It all started with Norrie 4-3 up in the fourth set. Goffin though he had held his serve with an ace, and was already walking back to his seat, but Norrie challenged. The serve turned out to be just outside the line, and the crowd went ballistic. Norrie egged them on, gesturing them to get louder at which stage his royal fans laughed and clapped along.

He went on to secure the essential break of serve and was buoyed all the way to the finish line.

"Towards the end, crazy atmosphere," Norrie said afterwards. "The crowd definitely got me through it. I think at the end of the fourth, that 4-3 game, I really got the crowd involved, and from then on, they were behind me every point. I think it frustrated him a little bit."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watch on - GETTY IMAGES
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watch on - GETTY IMAGES

Although Norrie has been the top-ranked British man for two years, his profile in these parts has always been minor compared to two-time champion Andy Murray. Then, Emma Raducanu's miraculous US Open win last season overshadowed his own impressive breakthrough to win Indian Wells and move into the top 10 earlier this year.

At Wimbledon this week, though, he has dominated the front and back pages. There was no other option, as he became the last Brit standing on Sunday. But not until Tuesday night did the Wimbledon patrons finally fall in love with the unassuming Norrie.

A grinder on the court by nature, Norrie's unconventional route to the top echelons of tennis – via Texas Christian University – may be partly to blame for his previous lack of star power here. So too the fact he had never progressed past the third round at a major until this fortnight.

But now, with all British hopes at Wimbledon falling on his shoulders for the first time in his career, he eventually lived up to the expectations by overcoming stylish Goffin in five gruelling sets. He did it partly by riding the wave of support from the 12,000-strong crowd on No 1 Court.

"Of course they were all behind him," a deflated Goffin said post-match, "and it was a huge advantage for him."

Apart from the royal patronage, Norrie's team included his New Zealand-based parents who travelled to London to watch his finest moment. So too was Linda Cappel there, a good friend of Norrie's who he met while at college at TCU.

Norrie's close friend Linda Cappel cheers him on
Norrie's close friend Linda Cappel cheers him on

Cappel put him up in her home when he was just emerging on the pro tour, and has served as a surrogate mother of sorts for Norrie – even showing up at Indian Wells to watch him clinch the biggest title of his career. As she wiped away tears on No 1 Court, and Norrie attempted to stifle his own during his post-match interview, the crowd would not let up.

"Maybe that was the difference today," he said. "It was only one or two points in it, it just shows that I played the bigger points better than him.

Cappel is overcome by emotion after Norrie's win
Cappel is overcome by emotion after Norrie's win

"I didn't notice [the royals] during the match but I saw them at the end there. That's obviously very special to be playing in front of them, and obviously they had more interest in my match, which is pretty cool."

Come his semi-final against Novak Djokovic on Friday, he will be back at Centre Court for the biggest match of his career and finally the main event at his home Grand Slam.