When British No1 Cameron Norrie ventures through the double doors, on to Wimbledon’s Centre Court and into a cathedral of raucous noise today, it will be the biggest moment of his five-year professional career.
He may have won Indian Wells last year, arguably the biggest non-Grand Slam event on the circuit, but reaching the latter stages of one of the four majors – let alone the pinnacle in SW19 – tops it all.
Standing between him and a spot in Sunday’s gentlemen’s singles final, however, is one of the greatest players of all time.
World No3 Novak Djokovic is on the hunt for his 21st Grand Slam; his last came at the All England Club last year.
Coming into this semi-final he has won 1,010 professional ranking matches to Norrie’s 135.
Djokovic’s 87 titles and 20 Slams dwarf the four won by the South Africa-born Brit, who before this year had never progressed beyond the third round of a major.
And the disparity in career prize money is enormous.
Not including this tournament, Norrie has topped $5m in winnings and is set to add at least £500,000 to that no matter this afternoon’s result.
The Serbian former world No1 on the other hand has pocketed more than $150m in prize money during a near-20-year career that has seen him battle for supremacy with Rafael Nadal – today’s withdrawn semi-finalist – and Roger Federer.
To reach this point at the Championships, both Norrie and Djokovic have had to win 15 sets of tennis but interestingly they’ve both lost the same amount of sets – four.
Norrie has had three straight-sets wins – in rounds one, three and four – while he’s endured two matches – in rounds two and his quarter-final – that went the distance.
Games, sets and matches
Djokovic has won two straight-sets matches – in rounds two and three – while winning two matches in four sets – in rounds one and four – and toppling Jannik Sinner in five sets in the last eight.
There’s no doubt Norrie is riding a wave of home advantage at Wimbledon, the kind of wave that helped Nick Kyrgios to a doubles title in Melbourne and Andy Murray’s triumphs at the All England Club, but it will be an uphill battle to beat a ferocious Djokovic.
The Serb himself has received a warm welcome from the British crowd in the last two weeks and, in a new move for the 35-year-old, has seemed to enjoy interacting with fans and embraced the atmosphere.
But against Norrie, he will be against 15,000 people on Centre Court – not that he’s unused to being the pantomime villain.
Norrie is breaking new ground in south west London this afternoon and the experience will be an abnormal one for him – his biggest title having come in the leafy outposts of southern California.
He will need to start like Sinner did and be aggressive from the off, and then go one further than the Italian and hold on to service games to win enough points to sneak the win.
Should he complete what would quite simply be an astronomical upset against the Serb it would be the biggest win in his career, and the biggest at Wimbledon for a Brit since Murray beat Milos Raonic in the 2016 final. History is up for grabs and it’s for Norrie to make it.