Cam Norrie and Heather Watson will fly the flag for Britain’s tennis hopes in the Fourth Round of Wimbledon as Centre Court celebrates its 100th Anniversary
- Heather Watson will face Jule Niemeier in her maiden Fourth Round appearance
- Cam Norrie takes on Tommy Paul who defeated him earlier this year in Florida
- Watson and Norrie are the final surviving Brits from 17 entrants at Wimbledon
The Centre Court will celebrate its 100th anniversary this afternoon on what will be Wimbledon’s first-ever official middle Sunday.
Past champions will be out in force for a lunchtime ceremony before those aspiring to win that future status play on what, until now, has always been a rest day.
Heather Watson will take to the main arena for her entirely feasible shot at the quarter-finals, against Germany’s Jule Niemeier. Cam Norrie is on Court No1, where he will face American Tommy Paul.
Heather Watson will face Jule Niemeier and Cam Norrie will play Tommy Paul in Round Four
They are the last two singles survivors from the host nation’s bumper entry of 17.
When 10 managed to take advantage of decent draws to make round two it seemed there might have been more left — it is the hope that kills you. Nonetheless, both have a realistic chance of continue the feelgood factor around the British game in recent weeks.
There can be a temptation to read too much into grass-court performances, especially in this year without ranking points, but broadly the Brits have performed well.
The rest of the year will give a more accurate picture of where the British game stands but some have failed to grasp the opportunity at what was always likely to be an extra unpredictable tournament.
Watson has never reached the Fourth Round of Wimbledon before this year
However, Norrie’s progress is no shock at all. The world No 12 has claimed two ATP titles this year and 30 victories, adding to the 52 he managed last season.
His unobtrusive and grounded nature is summed up by the fact that he cycles in most days from his home in Putney. Fame is coming slowly and he recently told of having a snack at a local eaterie and the barman telling him he looked a bit like that tennis player, Cam Norrie.
The 26-year-old southpaw, raised largely in New Zealand by British parents, has turned out to be something of a gift to the British game.
These days he wins far more matches than the more celebrated Andy Murray or Emma Raducanu and he would deserve the prominence that would be achieved by a run into this coming week.
Left-handed Norrie was actually born in New Zealand to English parents
‘It’s a great day to be a tennis fan, another day on the weekend when people are not working to come out and watch,’ said Norrie, who was overdue making the fourth round at a Grand Slam. ‘It changes nothing for me, I’ll treat it like another match. I’ve played big matches a lot these last couple of years, so I can use that. Making the second week, it was nice to tick that box.’
Norrie’s opponent is not one of the higher profile Americans but is somewhat underrated. He beat the British No 1 earlier this year in Florida, in straight sets.
Paul, a strong baseliner, is likely to prove more difficult to crack than Steve Johnson in the previous round. If Norrie can overcome him a semi-final, potentially against Rafael Nadal, is in sight.
Watson will not get a better chance to make the last eight than when she faces 22-year-old German Niemeier, the world No 97 from Dortmund.
The 30-year-old Channel Islander faced an unexpected fixture pile-up yesterday as she found herself still active in all three competitions.
Having won through to the third round of the women’s doubles with Harriet Dart, she solved that by pulling out of the mixed event with partner Ken Skupski on the technicality of having a knee injury.
Last time the British No 1 faced Tommy Paul he lost in straight sets in Florida earlier this year
That is unlikely to be relevant to her singles chances. Little that she has done this year pointed to her making the fourth round at a Major for the first time in 43 attempts.
She has been picking up a few wins here and there, enough to keep her floating around the 100-mark in the rankings, and it is eight years since she finished in the world’s top 50.
A key ingredient will have been the presence of her on-off coach Diego Veronelli, the thoughtful Argentinian who has usually been around when she has produced her best tennis.
She is certainly capable of beating Niemeier, who had never won a round at Wimbledon before this year. She did, however, beat the second seed Anett Kontaveit, so has clearly not made the last 16 by accident.