By Eleanor Crooks, PA Tennis Correspondent
Britain's Cameron Norrie gave English fans in Centre Court a cause to dream before his brilliant Wimbledon run came to an end with a semi-final loss to defending champion Novak Djokovic.
Norrie made a superb start, but the top seed Djokovic hit back emphatically to win 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 and set up a mouth-watering final against Nick Kyrgios on Sunday.
One step away from a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title.@DjokerNole defeats Cameron Norrie 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to reach his eighth final at The Championships#Wimbledon | #CentreCourt100 pic.twitter.com/wVXnsfKrIN
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 8, 2022
In extending his run of successive grass-court victories to 27, six-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic becomes the first man to reach 32 grand slam finals, while he has only lost one of his last 19 slam semi-finals.
Norrie will undoubtedly be disappointed that he could not make a first slam final, but the ninth seed has shown that he fully belongs with the world’s best and that he can have more chances in the future.
Djokovic has won at least one grand slam title – and more often than not two or three – each year since 2010 barring 2017, when he was dogged by elbow problems.
He arrived at Wimbledon, though, knowing this was likely to be his final chance of the season after his deportation from Australia and quarter-final loss at the French Open, and with a Covid-19 vaccination certificate still a requirement of entry into the United States.
This was therefore a huge match despite all the Serbian’s experience, and it was certainly he who seemed the more nervous in the early stages.
The crowd were in disbelief as Norrie won five games in a row to clinch the opening set but the early signs in the second were that Djokovic had steadied.
The pressure was growing as Norrie saved break points in the fourth and sixth games and a volley missed from right on top of the net at 3-4 was the momentary lapse that Djokovic needed to seize the initiative.
Unlike Jannik Sinner, who led Djokovic by two sets to love in the quarter-final, Norrie does not possess a big weapon and, with the defending champion now purring from the baseline, it was difficult for the British number one to find a chink of light.
He was being pushed well behind the baseline and the sort of errors he simply could not afford to make were creeping in.
Another break of serve to start the fourth set put Djokovic a step closer and, although Norrie fought manfully to stay in touch, earning huge applause when he saved four break points in the fifth game, the Serbian’s serve kept him out of reach.
After a final unreturnable serve on match point, Djokovic turned towards a section of spectators who had been calling out and let fly with a verbal volley, earning a chorus of boos, before celebrating reaching an eighth Wimbledon final.