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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Wimbledon 2022 - Cameron Norrie faces Novak Djokovic in Semis !!

 As the sun was setting over Wimbledon on Tuesday, Cameron Norrie basked in the adoration of the supporters still left on the Grounds. He was seated on the media balcony at Wimbledon completing an interview, with fellow first-time semi-finalist Ons Jabeur standing a few feet away, as fans flocked to celebrate them.It was a remarkable day for Norrie, who reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time when defeating Belgian David Goffin 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 in an enthralling clash.The 26-year-old became the first British man since Andy Murray in 2016 to reach the last four at Wimbledon.

The man ready to face him is – the famous Novak Djokovic, it was the quick trip to the facilities that saved his tilt at a seventh Wimbledon title.  For two sets, he had been outplayed by Jannik Sinner. For two sets, he had had the confidence knocked out of him by the young Italian’s crunching groundstrokes, walloping serve and own growing sense of belief. And for two sets, he did not know how to stop it. “I started doubting my shots,” he said, now looking considerably happier having won 5-7, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

It is all happening at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (if that is sounding a bit unfamiliar) -  it Wimbledon.  The 2022 Wimbledon Championships is now on.  Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty are the reigning champions in the singles tournaments. Barty is not defending her title, having retired from professional tennis in March 2022.This year, the AELTC barred Russian and Belarusian tennis players from competing, due to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. In reaction, the WTA, ATP, and ITF withdrew ranking points from the tournament.  The grass court tournament is being played from 27th June till 10th July 2022.   This year it is the 135th edition, the 128th staging of the Ladies’ Singles Championship event, the 54th in the Open Era, and the third Grand Slam tournament of the year.

The other half of Men’s is open with Cristian Garín playing   Nick Kyrgios while Taylor Fritz playing Rafael Nadal. 

The British media went agog with   Briton coming  from behind to beat Belgian 3-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5- this win enabled Norrie challenging  champion and No 1 seed for place in final. In the first grand slam quarter-final of Cameron Norrie’s blossoming career he had every reason to feel incensed by how things seemed to be progressing. Faced with the opportunity of a lifetime, his nerves early on were plain for all to see. He constantly dropped the ball short. His forehand leaked too many errors. All the while, David Goffin, his far more experienced opponent, picked him apart.Norrie fought hard until the final point, as he always does, and he was rewarded for his resilience with the greatest win of his life.

The wall of noise from No 1 Court left its mark on Goffin in the long game that followed as he meekly netted a forehand to relinquish the break. Shortly afterwards Norrie served out the set.The crowd was booming as the fifth set began and they stayed with Norrie as he saved a break point in the opening game and then took precious care of each service game until 5-5.As the crowd of 10,000 took in Norrie’s achievement, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge present, chants of his surname rang out around the stadium. “Honestly, speechless. Can’t even talk,” he said.

Novak Djokovic knew there was something about Jannik Sinner long before the Italian threatened to bundle him out of Wimbledon on Tuesday afternoon. What he rediscovered about himself after coming back from two sets down to beat Sinner in five sets in the first quarter-final was that winning has never been easy for him in the tournament he treasures above all others.Seven times in his career, Djokovic has recovered from two sets down to win. Last year those faltering starts in the slam tournaments put him in peril 10 times – the longest sequence of his career – and he managed to get over the line nine times, including twice at Wimbledon, where he first bounced back against Jack Draper and then against Matteo Berrettini to win the title.

Five-set tennis is the ultimate test but, until they reach the last few hurdles, most ambitious players would prefer a few easier tests. Still, struggle has often been Djokovic’s experience at Wimbledon, a place of garlanded deeds for him, nonetheless.Sinner is a prince, 20 years old, and one day he will surely have a kingdom of his own. If it is Wimbledon, he will have a ready-made audience of fans.

It sounds simple, but far from it. Djokovic needed to dig into all his reserves to swamp the Sinner confidence. He has done it for so long against the best in the history of the game that it is second nature to him.On day nine at Wimbledon, Djokovic started fast, faded fast and recovered slowly. Sinner played outstandingly well to win the first set in just under an hour, and even better to go two sets up.The youngest player to break the top 10 since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008, Sinner was playing tennis beyond his years. He will come again – and he will win big titles, maybe even this one, on a surface that is still new to him.

Interesting !  - and thinking of Semi-finals, I still lament my hero Ivan Lendl losses at Wimbledon – in Semis in 1988 & 89 and in the finals in 1983 & 84.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th July 2022.

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