Norrie Wins Indian Wells, Soars Into Turin Contention
Briton improves to 10th in FedEx ATP Race To Turin
Cameron Norrie is an ATP Masters 1000 champion for the first time after capturing the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open over Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets on Sunday.
The World No. 26 became the first man ranked outside the Top 25 to win in the desert since Ivan Ljubicic in 2010 and jumped to 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. The 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 result over the 29th seed came on the back of 10 winners and 25 unforced errors and handed him a second title this season from his sixth final (d. Nakashima in Los Cabos).
“It means so much to me, my biggest title. I’m so happy. I can’t even describe it right now,” Norrie said in his on-court interview. “It was a strange match today but absolutely massive for me and my team. I can’t really believe it. If you’d have told me I’d have won before the tournament started I wouldn’t have believed you, so it’s amazing.”
In the second ATP Masters 1000 final this year between players ranked outside the Top 25, after Hubert Hurkacz defeated Jannik Sinner in Miami, Norrie became the first British man to win in Indian Wells. Before this year, he had not won a match in two prior main draw appearances.
But after wins over Tennys Sandgren, Roberto Bautista Agut, Tommy Paul, Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov and Basilashvili, he departs Indian Wells at a career-high No. 16 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and as the new British No. 1.
“I was a little bit uncomfortable. It was quite windy and… for a stage he went through, he hit so many winners and it was tough for me to get some confidence on my rally balls because the rallies were really short,” Norrie said. “He was just blasting winners, so when I made a couple of those big shots at that 5-4 game in the second set it gave me a lot of confidence.
“I was able to find my feet and start moving again. I made the rallies physical like I’d been doing all tournament and it worked in my favour.”
From an early break down at 1-3, the Georgian began to find his range and won 10 of the next 11 points as his pace of shot from the back of the court began to gain the better of his opponent. Off the back foot, the Georgian whipped a forehand winner into the corner to bring up a break point at 4-3 and put the foot down as he won the last five games of the set.
It was the first time all tournament Norrie had dropped the opening set and if he was to become the first British man to win in the desert he was going to have to win from a set down for the eighth time this season. There were ominous signs when the Briton angled a backhand volley wide to surrender the early break for 2-1 in the second set, but a loose game from the Georgian brought the pair back level.
Norrie was knocking on the door and took his chances when Basilashvili served to stay in the set. The 26-year-old completed a run of eight straight points as he broke to level the match at the 71-minute mark and carried the momentum to an early break in the deciding set.
Basilashvili had his chances with three break point opportunities at 0-2, but Norrie’s retrieval skills came to the fore. His hold proved telling as his opponent struggled to rein in a mounting error count and the match was in the bag after one hour and 51 minutes.
“I’ve been really enjoying my tennis and been enjoying being out on court and competing in the big moments,” Norrie said. “I’m just really pleased with how I handled the occasion. I think I’m doing a lot better with that this year. I lost a lot of those finals, so it’s nice to get the big one today.”