Wimbledon has long been a burial ground for British hopes. If not for Andy Murray’s twin triumphs in 2013 and 2016, the local hopefuls would still have been holding onto memories of Fred Perry and Virginia Wade. Before the fiery Scot arrived on the scene, the sword fell on Tim Henman. The Oxford-born racqueteer wound his way into four Centre Court semi-finals, only to be cut to size by the superior quality of his opponents.
But British fans will be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu after last evening’s aches. Having to suffer through the exits of Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray, the terraces at SW19 couldn’t quite bask in “Rule, Brittania!” If the 19-year-old Raducanu succumbed 6-3, 6-3 in straight sets to Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia under sunlit skies, Murray teased a late evening comeback, only to be gunned down by American John Isner. The 6 feet 9-inch colossus served with the precision of an expert sniper but with a machine gun in hand. It was a relentless assault on the Scotsman, who tried to move every nerve within the enclosed arena to summon a fightback. Dishing out 36 aces over four sets, Isner prevailed 6-4, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 to move into the third round. If ever anyone has claimed to Make Serve & Volley Great Again in recent times, it was the Greensboro giant!
But whilst Raducanu and Murray have grabbed all the eyeballs, British men’s no. 1 and ninth-seed Cameron Norrie has flown under the radar. The Johannesburg-born Briton remains in contention after storming back from two-sets-to-one down to win 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 against Spaniard Jaume Munar. Speaking to the BBC in the aftermath of Raducanu’s exit and during Murray’s miseries, Norrie vowed to fly the Union Jack in classic Henmanism:
“I’m in it to win it. I’m feeling good and looking forward to the next one. “Winning would be a big shock to me. But I’m still in the tournament. I mean, I’m going to have to do things a lot better in terms of execution. But I’m feeling good physically,” quotes the Express.