Eight-times champion made to battle by British No 2 before prevailing 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
Federer happy with form after four-set win as he makes the fourth round at Wimbledon for 18th time
The Centre Court crowd craned their necks skywards in the hope of finding some thunder clouds and the prospect of another bolt of lightning striking but the last British men’s contender, Cameron Norrie, could not quite match the extraordinary feats of fellow LTA scholarship graduate, Emma Raducanu, despite a fiery, defiant, mid-match fightback. There was a crackle in the air at that point as the British No 2 took the third set, a long yearned-for whooping and hollering from the crowd at the unexpected turn of events as Roger Federer dropped serve to love for Norrie to roll back the stone from the seeming dead.
It was a slow-burner but it certainly ignited. No wonder the crowd rose to salute the gallant loser. Norrie may have ceded centre stage to Raducanu on the day but on this evidence he will not be waiting long in the wings for his own curtain call.
This, though, is Roger Federer’s domain and he was hell-bent on defending the ramparts when those Norrie cannonballs headed his way. He will be fighting to reclaim the title with his customary zeal. Never mistake his sweat-free countenance for complacency. Federer remains every bit as much a warrior as a Martin Johnson on a rugby field. It was far from an accomplished Federer performance but with each passing match, he grows stronger and more assured. His timing may be awry but the desire burns as fiercely as ever. Novak, he’s coming for you.
Norrie was beaten but not overwhelmed, showing pluck and canniness but there was only one man really in charge of the scoreboard, Federer, the man who knows what it takes.
“I’m super-relieved to get through as Cam was excellent and deserved that third set,” said Federer who has reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the 69th time, a remarkable landmark. “When I wake up in the morning feeling stiff, it’s nice to know stats like that. I feel as if I am playing to a higher level now than I did in the first round. It is an absolute pleasure to be out here. It is all a bonus for me and I’ll see how far I can go.”
There are many who feel that Federer operates at a celestial level on grass and the eight time champion moves into the second week for a record 18th time. It wouldn’t be the same without him. The quest for him to become the third oldest Wimbledon men’s singles winner continues. Only Pancho Gonzales and Ken Rosewall had more miles on the clock than Federer who approaches his 40th birthday next month. There is precious little sign of any mid-life crisis in the Swiss household.
The loyalties of the Wimbledon crowd have been pledged to the 20-time Grand Slam champion for many a long year. There was a momentary wobble in their affiliations when Norrie did the decent thing in passing a towel to a distressed young boy who had been hit in the face moments before by a booming swerve. The likeable, eminently competent 25 year old Johannesburg-born, Kiwi-reared former Texas college student, who declared his allegiance to Britain (by virtue of his parents) at 16, knew full well that he would have to charm and seduce through the strength of his play.
Norrie, a finalist at Queen’s and with a career-high ranking of 34 against his name, is in the form of his life after winning 31 matches on the tour this year. He certainly had his moments, sprinting and dinking, forcing the occasional break points, notably early in the second set, and eventually came hard at Federer. The emotional pendulum duly swung when Norrie staged his improbable comeback, saving two break points against his own serve at 5-5 and then stunning Federer who had only had a couple of break points against him up in the entire match.
Federer is neither in his prime or in his pomp. But there is grit, a down-in-the-dirt determination to make it happen, a bare-knuckle longing to add to his Wimbledon portfolio.
The precision is not yet there, no surprise given his injury woes of 2020 when he underwent two surgeries on his right knee. There has been precious little time on court this year. This was only his 11th competitive outing. But the spirit is undoubtedly willing and the body is gradually being called to order.
The Federer serve was as potent as ever, certainly so in the opening set when he won 94 per cent of his first serve points. Norrie achieved the nigh-on impossible in breaking him when he did to take the third set. Was this the dream, the impossible dream, about to be realised? Much as Norrie was spirited and defiant in the fourth set, he simply could not find that extra bit of magic. There was an uncharacteristic flash of emotion from Federer with a vigorous fist-pump celebration as Norrie’s return hit the net to signal the end of proceedings.
Federer is still very much a contender.
As it happened…
Federer’s still got it
Roger Federer speaks…
On the match and Cameron Norrie…
“I am very pleased and super relieved to get through. It was a tough battle with Cam. He deserved that theird set and I thought he played excellent today.”
On his form…
“I kept a high level of play. Overall I can be very happy with how I played.”
On making the fourth round of a grand slam for the 69th time…
“It’s a nice stat to hear…I’ve loved every minute [of my career] so far and I hope there’s a little bit left for me. I guess this one’s special because I’m almost 40. At this point it’s all a bonus and we’ll see how far I can go here.”
FEDERER TAKES THE FOURTH SET AND WINS 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4!!
At 15-15 Federer smashes a forehand into the open court which Norrie somehow gets to and forces a Federer error – the Briton is not giving up. That gets Norrie to 15-30 and gives him hope.
BUT it’s Federer we’re talking about here he gets to 30-30 and two big first serves give Norrie little chance to get into a rally and the Swiss wins in four sets.
Norrie made a match of that – the future is bright for him.
Regarding Federer, that is just the sort of match that will do his possible title hopes no harm. He’s beaten the world No.34 in a match that saw him have to fight as much as show finesse and the eight-times champion keeps the dream of title No.9 alive.
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 5-4 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Two rasping forehand from the racket of Federer gets him to 15-30 and a glimpse of a break. A forehand smash – after a chip and charge – gets him two break points. Can he make them count this set?
Norrie saves the first with an ace before a great second serve sets up a forehand, that causes the Swiss to slip, saves the second. A wayward forehand however gifts Federer another break point and this time the Swiss makes no mistake and will now serve for the match.
Federer 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 4-4 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
The errors are creeping into Federer’s game – a wide forehand when in control of the rally a sign that Federer is feeling the pressure. A fine Fed forehand winner on the run more than makes up for that mistake and the eight-time champion hold to 30. He quickly shut the door on Norrie there.
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-4 Norrie (*denotes next server)
No sooner had he done what he needed to do and broken the Federer serve than Norrie’s immediately under pressure on his own serve. At 30-30 the Briton then slams a backhand into the net. Federer has break point. Norrie attacks the net and this time it’s a Federer backhand that fails to get over the net.
With an advantage Norrie double faults, but follows it up with a great forehand top spin that Federer cannot control. From there Norrie holds. He digs deep after another break point saved.
The longer this goes on the more belief Norrie is getting that he could take this into a fifth set…
Federer 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-3 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Norrie is at 30-30 on the Federer serve, showing some great resilience. But Federer then flicks the switch and finds a huge first serve. He finds another but Norrie stays in the rally and forces the error from the Swiss. It’s deuce and the very next point the Briton has a break point after a wonderful forehand winner down the line. A backhand winner, when Federer is flatfooted at the baseline, sees Norrie break straight back. Great response.
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Norrie’s nerves return – a double fault makes it 0-30 and Federer now has a great chance to get the break. A bludgeoned forehand into the net (another error) and the Swiss has three break points.
Federer breaks to love after a Norrie volley ends up in the net, not over it. Is that the crucial moment of this set? Norrie will have to break that Federer serve for the second time if he’s not to end up out of Wimbledon.
Federer 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 2-2 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Federer holds to 15 – that was more like the dominant Swiss serve of the first two sets.
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 1-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Norrie is coming into the net off his serve more, but a volley into the net allows Federer to get to 30-30. The Briton is targeting the Federer backhand and it’s a tactic that plays dividends when the Swiss plants one into the net. The very next point however, the tactic doesn’t as Federer plays a gorgeous backhand winner down the line. That makes it deuce. Another Federer backhand into the net – after some great hitting from both players – gifts Norrie service point, one he cannot grab on to. At deuce this time it’s a Federer error on the forehand that gives Norrie a second service point and an ace allows Norrie to hold once again.
Federer 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 1-1 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
There’s a bit of edginess in Federer’s game at the moment, Norrie is growing in confidence and the Swiss is being made to think. At 30-30 the dominance of Federer’s serve is being questioned, but a drive volley and a good first serve allows the Swiss to hold to 30.
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 0-1 Norrie (*denotes next server)
That was a comfortable service hold for Norrie (to 15). That was a terrific game, great message to Federer and has there been a crucial momentum shift here?
NORRIE TAKES THE THIRD SET 7-5!!
A long and wide Federer backhand makes it 0-30. Norrie has a glimpse of a break and the third set. Federer plays a forehand down the line – it’s called out and the review doesn’t overrule it. Norrie has three set points!
AND NORRIE BREAKS FEDERER TO LOVE!
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 5-6 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Norrie is behind on serve again at 0-15 before a Federer mishit gets Norrie to parity. A long Norrie forehand again gives Federer the advantage and on second serve at 15-30 the Briton is under huge pressure. The Swiss makes no mistake with the return and he now has two break points…
Norrie is in at the net and luckily avoids getting his racket on a wide Federer backhand. That is the first break point saved. Federer then sends a lob long and we’re at deuce. Great nerves and character from Norrie.
Federer then sends two groundstrokes long and Norrie holds! There is no doubting the Briton’s toughness.
Federer 6-4, 6-4, 5-5 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
This is the first time in the match where Norrie is asking questions of Federer. Can he do it in this Federer service game?
A Federer forehand (one of sport’s things of beauty) makes it 30-0, before another, which Norrie does well to get to, makes it 40-15. From there it’s no shock to see him hold and it’s 5-5 in the third set.
Not a look in for Norrie – can the Briton hold his nerve on serve now?
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 4-5 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Again Norrie is playing catch up on his serve, he’s 0-15 down first up. But the Briton gets in three terrific first serves in a row and it’s 40-15. Make that four, as an ace sees him hold to 15.
Federer is now the one under pressure and will have to serve to stay in this set. That was a fine response from Norrie – he’s showing why he is a world-class player.
Federer 6-4, 6-4, 4-4 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Another Federer service sees him get to 40-0 in no time. But Norrie is battling well this set and he gets back to 40-30 thanks to a fine forehand. BUT Federer snuffs out the danger and holds the next point.
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 3-4 Norrie (*denotes next server)
That was a very good hold from Norrie. He holds to 15 in double-quick time and that will give him confidence and a much-needed mental break on serve. He’s now asking questions of Federer in a way he wasn’t during the first two sets.
Federer 6-4, 6-4, 3-3 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Anyone hoping for great details on Federer forehand and athletic backhand will have to wait for at least another game as this Federer service game is over in the blink of an eye. He holds to love and is looking so strong on serve.
No sooner has Norrie held serve after a gruelling game than he has to do so again – must be trying and testing.
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 2-3 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Norrie keeps on getting behind on his serve – the pressure is building but once again he summons up the courage, guts and class to hold – this time to 30, winning the game with an ace. This is a better start to the third set for Norrie compared to the first two.
Federer 6-4, 6-4, 2-2 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
At 0-15 down and on second serve Federer is under pressure on his serve. But he summons up a backhand crosscourt winner and from there does what he is so good at: takes control, eventually holding to 15.
Federer* 6-4, 6-4, 1-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Federer slips for the second time this match and Norrie has an open court with which to place a winner – he, however, finds the net and is 0-30 on his serve. A backhand winner gets the British No.2 to 30-30, impressive but he’s still under pressure. Norrie holds to 30 – another good hold winnig four points in a row when staring at another break.
Federer 6-4, 6-4, 1-1 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Better from Norrie – he’s trying to change things up and moving Federer around when he can. The Briton gets to 30-30 before a long rally sees the Swiss come in and play a fine volleyed winner. From there Fed holds to 30.
Federer * 6-4, 6-4, 0-1 Norrie (*denotes next server)
One thing Norrie can do (has to do, even…) is just hold on to his own serve. He does that well and is up early in the third set.
FEDERER TAKES SECOND SET FOR 6-4, 6-4 TWO-SET LEAD!!
Federer’s backhand is in fine form today – a good barometer of his game (clue: it’s at a very high level if he’s finding his range with that shot) He plays a gorgeous backhand winner down the line on his way holding to love and a two-set lead.
Norrie isn’t playing badly, he’s just up against a Federer who looks a world away from the 39 year old who struggled in the first round against Mannarino.
Federer * 6-4, 5-4 Norrie (*denotes next server)
The British No.2 (and world No.34) is under pressure from the get go in this game – a long volley and a backhand into the net give Federer 0-30 advantage…A Swiss slip allows Norrie to get to parity. Federer then earns set point thanks to a Norrie error (backhand into the net) but the Briton gets in a great flighted second serve to get to deuce and from there holds very well. He’s making Federer serve for the second set. That was gutsy from Norrie.
Federer 6-4, 5-3 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Norrie is an impressive runner (17-min 5kms, I think…(that’s v v v good btw)) and he’s being made to run about by Federer here. One point has Norrie scampering from one wing of the court to the other before a Federer smash allows him to get his breath back. Federer holds to 30 and Norrie (who is playing some decent tennis) is serving to stay in the second set…
Federer* 6-4, 4-3 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Impressive Norrie hold to 15. That’s his serve taken care of, for now, but he must be thinking ‘how am i going to break Federer?’ Henman is pondering whether he needs to attack the Federer backhand…
Federer 6-4, 4-2 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
The last time Federer dished up a double fault was in the second set of the first round – he’s so accurate on serve. He holds to love (his third of the match) and is looking effortlessly good.
Federer* 6-4, 3-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Federer is playing with such freedom at the moment – off a Norrie first serve Federer hits the sweetest of backhand winners down the line. At 30-30 Norrie is under pressure again on serve. The British No.2 isn’t helped by dishing up another double fault to make it deuce. His response, however, is to produce an ace and a faulty Federer forehand gives Norrie a much-needed hold.
Federer 6-4, 3-1 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Norrie again puts (unexpected) pressure on the Federer serve. At 0-30 down, though, the Swiss does what he does best, goes up a gear and in the blink of an eye he’s gone to 40-30 up. A Federer forehand into the net makes it deuce BUT anyone who thought that maybe, just maybe, Norrie could break is quickly proven wrong as Federer comfortably takes the next two points.
Federer* 6-4, 2-1 Norrie (*denotes next server)
A blistering Federer forehand winner is a thing of athletic joy and worth the admission fee on its own. This one came off the racket at 95 mph to get him to 30-15 down on the Norrie serve. Another forehand winner gets him to 30-30, before a heavy Norrie drop shot sets up a backhand winner for the Swiss. He has a break point and a long Norrie smash means Federer has broken and is very much in the ascendancy here.
He looked 39 in the ‘win’ over Mannarino but is looking 29 now…
Federer 6-4, 1-1 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
A helpful net cord gets Norrie to 15-30 on the Federer serve (the first time today). Can he make it count? He can, initially, as he comes to the net to play the most dainty of volleys to earn two break points. A good, deep first serve allows Federer to save the first of those, before a serve drive volley saves the second. A forehand winner down the line gets the Swiss to advantage and a long Norrie forehand gives him the game.
Federer won four points in a row there – his timing looks good, his rhythm is there. Norrie needs another good service game now.
Federer* 6-4, 0-1 Norrie (*denotes next server)
A Norrie serve (accidently) hits a child in the crowd – the young chap looks ok, though, thankfully. The Briton doesn’t let that affect him as he indulges in a bit of serve and volley on his way to hold to 15. That was good from Norrie – he had to hold there or possibly see the match run away from him. The boy who was hit is fine and Norrie gives him a towel to remember the day (and very minor pain) by.
FEDERER TAKES THE FIRST SET 6-4!!
No shock, breaking news from me (apols, Cam Norrie fans)…Federer, so dominant on his serve, holds to 15 and takes the first set in a little over 30 minutes.
That was the Federer of the Gasquet win, not the unsettled Federer of the Mannarino scare. He was impressive without really getting out of third gear.
Federer* 5-4 Norrie (*denotes next server)
At 30-30 and on second serve Norrie is under pressure on his serve once again. He wins that point, though, and and wins the game with a cute drop shot. Norrie needed that. A gutsy hold BUT he has to find that first serve more.
Federer will now serve for the first set.
Federer 5-3 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Federer is playing well here without really breaking sweat – ominous for Norrie. First up he sends Norre wide onto his backhand before hitting a subline forehand winner down the line. He again holds to love and he’s won 11 points in a row on his serve.
Federer* 4-3 Norrie (*denotes next server)
A double fault (his fourth) puts Norrie under pressure at 0-30. He has to find that first serve. He doesn’t the very next point and Federer has three break points. He only needs one of them as the Swiss plays a delightful down-the-line winner. Fed breaks to love and has now won eight points in a row.
You can’t really gift games like that to the eight-times champion. That’s the perfect start for the Swiss.
Federer 3-3 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
The Federer serve is up and running and in the groove – the first love hold of the match and it came in no more than 90 seconds.
Federer* 2-3 Norrie (*denotes next server)
That’s good from Norrie – the nerves have definitely settled. He’s untroubled as he holds to 15.
Federer 2-2 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Norrie loves a target and he passes well with a backhand winner down the line – his approach shots will have to be pinpoint today, though. Federer dominates the rest of his second service game and holds to 15.
Federer* 1-2 Norrie (*denotes next server)
The first slip of the match (not been many past few days to be fair) comes from Norrie as Federer is aggressive coming in off a short Norrie forehand. The Briton responds well with two good first serves before a brillinat backhand winner down the line. Much more comfortable hold for Norrie – he holds to 15. Early nerves possibly settled?
Federer 1-1 Norrie* (*denotes next server)
Federer opens up with an ace. If he gets his first serve going then it will be tough for Norrie – so much of his brilliance stems from getting that first serve in and dominating from there. It’s a great barometer of where the Swiss’ game is. Going on that game it’s OK – the eight-times champion comfortably holds to 15.
Federer* 0-1 Norrie (*denotes next server)
Tim Henman says on BBC comms that the first 15-20 minutes will be important for Norrie. The Briton serves first and starts well with a big first serve, but there are signs of nerves as Federer puts the early pressure on to get to 15-30. A double fault then gifts Federer an early break point. He needs to find his first serve and he does that next point up with an ace. He holds to 40 after and ace and three double faults – interesting. Nerves apparent but he’s a game to the good.
Roger Federer speaks…
.On his win over Richard Gasquet…
“It was great match for me against Gasquet. I hope it helps me build on from here. I got into a really good, strong 30-60 minutes. It gave me confidence.”
On Cameron Norrie…
“Cam is very comfortable on grass as we saw at Queen’s. He’s a lefty and I haven’t played him that much. He’s taken a big step forward as a player and it will be a tough match.”
In other news…
Coco Gauff continued her impressive tournament.
She won 6-3, 6-3 against Kaja Juvan.
After that Raducanu masterclass
Let’s see what another Briton can serve up for us on Centre Court.
Cameron Norrie is in the form of his life but he knows he’ll be up against it against Roger Federer. Even at the age of 39 and with waning powers the eight-time champion is a major challenge on Centre Court.
Cameron Norrie ready for the challenge of Roger Federer
By Molly McElwee
The Centre Court crowd may feel somewhat conflicted today as they battle with a tricky dilemma: cheer for their much-loved eight-time Wimbledon champion or the underdog Brit?
Cameron Norrie will play arguably the biggest match of his career when he steps out against Roger Federer, in his first ever appearance in the last-32 here and his first time facing the 20-time major champion. “If it’s a time to play Roger, now is probably the best time I guess,” the British No 2 said ahead of Federer’s second round win on Thursday. “But he’s still a decent player.”
Quite the understatement, but he is right in that so far this week Federer has been far from his best. He was fortunate when Adrian Mannarino, who was leading by two sets to one, had to retire after spraining his knee in the first round and handed Federer victory. Against Richard Gasquet he was much improved, winning in straight sets, but still not his supreme self.
Norrie, 25, is right that it is good timing in that sense – but more so because of his own brilliant form. He heads into this in the best shape of his life and brimming with confidence after a run to the finals at Queen’s. His coach Facundo Lugones says his improvement is down to the fact he is finally steering his own career.
“He completely took ownership of his career,” Lugones says, in an interview with Telegraph Sport. “He’s been doing that just since the pandemic started, so 18 months now, and it is finally showing.”
Since the start of 2021, Norrie’s ranking has climbed from 74 to 34, after reaching the third round at both the French and Australian Opens, making three ATP Tour finals and beating five top-20 players.
It started with the pandemic according to Lugones, when Norrie flew from Indian Wells last March to his parents’ home in Auckland, New Zealand. There he set his racket aside for a few weeks, and put himself on a gruelling running regime in the hilly terrain. His fitness improved, and so did his attitude.
“When he got back from New Zealand, he was a different guy,” Lugones says. “Taking ownership means he is on top of everything now. Before he would leave everything up to me or to the physio, and he didn’t have an idea of what was going on. Now he wants to know everything.”
Lugones met Norrie when they were both students at Texas Christian University, when he says the Brit was “a kid that didn’t really know what he was doing, everything was kind of random”. Now, four years on from becoming Norrie’s coach when he turned professional, the British No 2 has benefitted from the pandemic when he could “reset”.
“He was one of the few where the pandemic was good for. He was struggling at the beginning of 2020. He took it in a good way and we started from zero. The way he is managing things now, he calls himself the CEO of Norrie Capital, and we make fun of him for that. But he is also not making excuses, taking ownership if for some reason it didn’t go his way. I think that makes things a lot easier to keep getting better, when you are honest with yourself.”
Beating Federer on Centre Court he will have to find another level, as one of the toughest challenges in tennis. But Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith says Norrie can find it, because of his confidence this year: “He will believe he can win and he has to believe that. He’s going to have to play a great match, that’s obvious, but the way he’s playing – there’s a reason why he’s number 12 in the race rankings this year.
“His actual game is really effective, he’s improved it. I watched courtside at Queen’s and I was really impressed. His ball speed’s gone up this year, his forehand is way more offensive, he’s taking the ball earlier.”
Key is his fitness though: “He knows he’s fit enough; if he needs to go five sets with him, he can go five sets. He’s just got to go out and make it as physical as possible – I think that’s really important for him.”
Federer is still trying to shake off the cobwebs, after two knee surgeries and a 16-month absence from Grand Slam tennis before the French Open this year.
Lugones agrees in making every point as physical as possible, but insists this tactic is more about what Norrie can do, than about Federer’s physical vulnerability. “Obviously Roger is probably not in his best shape compared to two to three years ago but it is not because it is Fed, we try to make it physical with everyone and that is where Cam plays his best.”