Cameron Norrie is proud of the way he has handled home expectations after surging through to a first grand slam quarter-final at Wimbledon.
Heather Watson’s defeat on Center Court earlier on Sunday had left Norrie in the increasingly familiar situation of being the last Briton standing and looking to break new ground having made it past the third round for the first time.
He did so with aplomb, producing his best performance of the fortnight so far to defeat American 30th seed Tommy Paul 6-4 7-5 6-4 and set up another very winnable match against David Goffin.
“Obviously a great day,” said Norrie, who is only the fifth British man to make the last eight in singles here in the Open era.
“It’s an especially huge match for me and for him, as well. To play the way I did and to handle the occasion, I felt really comfortable the way I was hitting the ball this morning. Definitely more comfortable than my other matches.
“It was good to get through that one in the fashion that I did. I was up the whole match, which definitely helped.”
The 26-year-old, seeded ninth after a tremendous 18 months, had to come from two sets to one down to beat Jaume Munar in the second round but has been rock solid in victories over Steve Johnson and Paul.
Asked about carrying the torch alone, Norrie said: “I’ll take it. At the beginning of the tournament, you guys were asking me, ‘You’re British number one, you got a lot of pressure, a lot of expectations on your shoulders’. For me to play the way that I did in all my matches so far means a lot.
“Unfortunately I’m the last one standing. But I think it’s even more reason for everyone to get behind me. The atmosphere was great today and definitely helped me get over the line there.
“Especially on that last game, I was obviously pretty nervous. I was serving for my first quarter-final of a slam. I wanted to get it done there.”
Norrie is known for his consistency and relentless athleticism but his forehand was the key weapon here from the moment he drilled a pass down the line on the first point.
Paul, also looking to reach his first quarter-final slam, will probably have nightmares about that shot, with Norrie using it time and again to take control in rallies.
While it is not quite in Rafael Nadal territory yet, Norrie feels it is a barometer in his game, saying: “I really feel when I’m hitting the forehand line well, like I was doing today, it’s a sign I’m playing well and I’m confident. It feels good to hit it and strike it the way I did today.”
The passing shot helped Norrie to a break in the opening game, and he took control in each set early on while saving six of the seven break points he faced.
The only blip came when he tightened up a little serving for the second set but Paul threw in his worst service game of the match to give Norrie another chance, and the ninth seed took full advantage.
Goffin is a high-class opponent at his best having been a top-10 player and now a four-time slam quarter-finalist, but he has been badly affected by injuries recently.
Norrie is certainly not ready to end his Wimbledon adventure yet, saying: “It’s great to be through the quarters. But no reason to be satisfied. I want to keep pushing.
“I’m looking forward to the next match. Another challenge. Very experienced player. There’s still a long way to go, but pretty nice to tick the box making the quarters.
“I feel like I’m improving and my level is getting better. Definitely a little bit more calm in the bigger matches. It’s nice to do it that way round.”