Takeaways from Christopher Eubanks’ Wimbledon upset of Cameron Norrie

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Christopher Eubanks rested his hands atop his head, appearing to be almost in disbelief, as he walked back to the center of No. 1 Court. Seconds later, he raised them in victory as the crowd stood on its feet and roared in ovation.

He had just beaten the No. 13 player in the world and 2022 semifinalist Cameron Norrie, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3), in the second round at Wimbledon, and Eubanks soaked in every second of the occasion.

For some players, an early-round victory would hardly warrant such a response. But for Eubanks, 27, the achievement is a significant milestone in his career and something he has spent years trying to achieve. Appearing in the main draw at Wimbledon for the first time, despite four previous qualifying attempts, and playing in the ninth major main draw of his career, Eubanks is now into his first Grand Slam third round.

And it means everything to him.

“[This is] by far the biggest win of my career, by far,” Eubanks said during his on-court interview. “Not even a question. There are tons of really good tennis players who play professional tennis and never get the chance to play the No. 1 Brit at Wimbledon in an atmosphere like this. It didn’t even matter how many people were for me, or against me, this is something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”

So, still not quite understanding why this win is so important to him? Here’s what you need to know ahead of his third-round match Saturday:

A monumental 2023

It has been a long road to the Round of 32 for Eubanks, who played collegiately at Georgia Tech for three seasons before turning pro in 2017. Having spent most of his career playing lower-level events and needing to qualify for most Grand Slam and tour-level tournaments, Eubanks has finally had his long-awaited breakthrough this season. He entered the year at No. 123 before cracking double digits for the first time after a surprise quarterfinal run in March in Miami. He cried with emotion after the fourth-round match that secured the new ranking.

“Out of everybody in the world that plays tennis at some point, in some week in the world, you were one of the best 100 tennis players in the world,” Eubanks told Tennis Majors at the time. “In the world. Like, there’s a lot of people that play tennis. A lot of people. And it’s like, I’m sitting here as one of the top 100 best people to do it — one of the best players to do it right now. It feels good.”

And his ranking has only improved since then.

Last week, Eubanks won the first ATP title of his career, at Mallorca, with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Adrian Mannarino in the final. His ranking is now No. 43, making him the sixth-highest American man. He has carried that momentum to the All England Club. Now, with two Wimbledon wins under his belt, he’s up to No. 40 in the live rankings — and would likely improve an additional two spots with another victory. He’s now in a position to potentially be seeded at the US Open, which would be a first for him at a major and is all but guaranteed entry at any tournament he wants to play.

Of 23 former NCAA players competing in the men’s and women’s singles draw, Eubanks is the only one remaining.

A résumé- (and fan-) building stretch on grass

Eubanks wasn’t exaggerating when he called Friday’s victory the biggest win of his career. The result marked just his second top-20 win and the first at a major. He had been winless in that category until he defeated then-No. 20 Borna Coric 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round at Miami this year.

And the win over Norrie is easily the most lucrative victory of Eubanks career as well. He has now secured at least a $168,249 payday for his efforts in London.

Having supplemented his income over the past few seasons with occasional commentary work for Tennis Channel — something he said he initially wanted to do while he was struggling to get the results he was looking for on court — he then credited his part-time role for helping him on court.

“… It really helps my perception on the court, I can take a little bit of the emotion out and say, ‘Hey, if I was watching this match and calling it, what would I be telling myself?’ And then I can stop getting so emotionally charged when things don’t go my way,” Eubanks said on Friday.

While he already is a beloved internet favorite, thanks in part to a viral dance video with Serena Williams and Coco Gauff in 2019, and has an impressive list of famous friends and fans — including Kim Clijsters, Chad Johnson and Jamie Foxx — Eubanks surely has attracted even more support this week. A longtime favorite among his peers, his run is undoubtedly being celebrated in the locker room as well. Eubanks told reporters on Friday that he still hadn’t managed to respond to all the congratulatory text messages he had received after winning Mallorca — and then discovered he had received over 100 more following the victory over Norrie.

“I know I have to play tomorrow, so I probably won’t get a chance to address them all,” he said. “I’ll hit obviously my family and some very close people. My focus will be more centered on trying to get another win tomorrow and then finishing out Wimbledon whenever it does and then we can kind of go through and see how many more messages I have.”

A chance for more

Eubanks will take on Christopher O’Connell, the world No. 73, in the third round Saturday. It’s an incredible opportunity for both players. Neither has ever reached a Grand Slam fourth round.

The two have never faced each other before but because of his ranking and current momentum — he has now won seven straight matches on grass — Eubanks is certainly the favorite heading into the clash. And, having won over the pro-Norrie crowd on Friday, he should have a lot of fan support.

“If I was able to kind of attract a few more fans, a few more Brits, to want to back me the rest of this Wimbledon and on after that, I’d really, really appreciate it, man,” Eubanks said in his news conference Friday. “This has been extremely special. That was an extremely special match for me.”

The winner will take on No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or Laslo Djere in the fourth round. While Eubanks didn’t speculate about his chances going forward, Norrie said he believed he could be a legitimate threat the rest of the tournament.

“With the way he played today, if he can do that repeatedly, I don’t see why not,” Norrie said. “He’s playing great. He’s confident. Obviously he hasn’t played too many big matches deep in slams before. I think that will be the toughest part for him.

“His level at the moment and his confidence is unbelievable. He completely took the racquet out of my hand today. I did what I could, but it wasn’t enough. I haven’t looked at the draw any further but he’s playing great.”

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