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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Cameron Norrie survives five-set struggle to reach third round | Wimbledon 2022

Twelve months ago, Cameron Norrie left Wimbledon a frustrated man, having lost to Roger Federer in a four-set battle that was a lot tighter than the 20-time grand slam champion expected. Norrie built on that effort and in April, he broke into the ATP top 10 for the first time.

Now ranked 12, he booked his place in the third round again with a typically hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 win over Jaume Munar of Spain. On a day when Harriet Dart made it 10 Britons through to round two – the best effort since 1984 – Norrie knows this could be his best chance yet to reach the second week of a grand slam.

“I was so pleased to get through that,” said a jubilant Norrie, who regrouped superbly after being outplayed in the second and third sets. “It was a tricky match. Jaume put the ball in so many awkward spots in the court, I wasn’t playing my best but I managed to lock it in in the fourth and keep the momentum.”

Norrie has garnered a reputation for grinding out gruelling wins on Tour but his victory over Munar, the world No 71, was only his third deciding-set win in a slam in seven matches. Finding a way to win when he was not at his best should stand him in good stead as he prepares to face the American Steve Johnson for a place in the last 16.

“That was what I needed,” he said. “I was a bit fortunate to win that first set as he was the better player and he was too good in the second and third. I was getting a bit frustrated and it was really tough but really pleased with my level at the end.

“Johnson likes grass, has a big serve and always plays well at Wimbledon. He is really comfortable on this surface so it’s not going to be easy but I’m just going to enjoy this one and look forward to playing on Friday.”

A waist-high crop of Harriet Dart playing a forehand shot in her victory against Rebeka Masarova.
Harriet Dart plays a forehand shot in her victory against Rebeka Masarova. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Johnson ended Ryan Peniston’s breakthrough summer as he won their second-round battle 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Peniston, who won his first ATP match at Queen’s Club earlier this month and reached the quarter-finals there and at Eastbourne, will take home £78,000 and though no ranking points are being awarded at this year’s Wimbledon, he has shown he can compete at this level. His ranking is set to rise to 122 after the tournament.

“I’ve kind of got a little taste for it now after the last few weeks,” he said. “Definitely want more. Hopefully I can get some more matches on the ATP Tour under my belt. Yeah, especially grand slams as well. There’s nothing like playing the grand slams. The last two days has been unbelievable. Definitely up there in my tennis career. I think just the last five weeks have kind of been like the best five weeks of my life. Can’t really explain how good it’s been. I think after this tournament it might finally set in a little bit.”

Dart’s 6-1, 6-4 win over Rebeka Masarova of Spain ensured that Britain would have 10 players in round two for the first time since 1984, well before any of them were born. Having been made to wait an extra day because of rain delays on Tuesday, the 25-year-old played superbly to book her place in round two against the American eighth seed Jessica Pegula.

Lucie Ahl, a leading British coach, said on Wimbledon Radio that the Covid pandemic, when players could only train at the National Tennis Centre, was partly responsible for the togetherness of the British players. The Battle of the Brits, organised by Jamie Murray, was another factor and having Andy Murray around for advice and practice had worked wonders.

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Dart said seeing so many British players around tournaments had been an inspiration. “Everyone has been doing so well,” she said. “I feel like we all train together, we all get on really well. I think one person sees one person does well, then another believes that they can do well, too. I think that’s really great to see. It’s not just on the women’s side, it’s on the men’s, too. I feel like British tennis is in a good place.”

And things may yet get better as a familiar face is back at Wimbledon. Kyle Edmund has been out of action since October 2020 but after two knee operations, he’ll play in the mixed doubles with fellow Briton Olivia Nicholls. “I have spent a couple of weeks hitting with everyone,” he said. “I have missed it a lot.”

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