After a compelling week of breakthrough at the BNP Paribas Open in which the increased stakes of each new round raised the level of play for Cameron Norrie, Britain’s top male tennis player took one final step in forward by producing one of the most surprising Masters 1000 triumphs in recent memory. After a set and a break deficit, Norrie recovered to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 and become the first Briton to win the prestigious Indian Wells title.
In addition to the small question of triumphing at the fifth biggest annual tournament on the planet – just his second career ATP title – Norrie leaves Indian Wells with a new career ranking of 16 and he has firmly dragged himself into the race for the ATP finals in Turin, now 10th in the ATP race. Since Rafael Nadal is injured, Norrie is only one place and 110 points out of the top eight.
“It means so much to me, my biggest title,” Norrie said afterwards. “I’m so happy I can’t even describe it yet. It was a strange game today but absolutely huge for me and my team and I can’t really believe it. If you told me I would have won the tournament before the tournament started, I wouldn’t believe you. So this is amazing.
Indian Wells’ slow courts resulted in a final with two contrasting styles. As conditions increased Norrie’s strength, making it even more difficult to pass the ball to him and helping establish long rallies, Basilashvili is one of the most destructive shooters on the tour. In a streak of wins over top seeds including No.3 Stefanos Tsitsipas, he was one of the few heavy hitters who could consistently tackle the conditions.
Norrie opened the game as he has throughout the fortnight, constantly making returns, lengthening rallies and working the more error-prone wing of Basilashvili, his forehand. He quickly broke the serve and took an early 3-1 lead. But Basilashvili slowly found his range and began to impose his considerable weapons on Norrie. From 1-3 down, he went through five straight games to win the set and he quickly led 6-3, 2-1 with a break.
But it was entirely new ground for both players and as Norrie continued to drag Basilashvili into lengthy crossover exchanges, especially from the two-pitch between Norrie’s backhand and Basilashvili’s forehand, the Georgian slowly started off. to offer more direct errors. Norrie fell back and took a 3-2 lead in the second set, growing confidence in his own service plays.
The second set was essentially decided by two inspired points at 5-4 to Norrie on the serve of Basilashvili. He first moved inside the baseline, executed a drop shot, then finished the long point with a compound volley winner, then he drilled a spectacular backhand shot winner downstream . Two Basilashvili mistakes later, Norrie fell in love.
After reestablishing the long attritional cross-trades while eliminating many mistakes from an impatient Basilashvili, Norrie made just one unforced error in the first three games of the set, even recovering from a triple breaking point. at 2-0 en route to a 3-0 lead. With her momentum established, Norrie refused to relinquish control, breaking once more before serving the game with ease.
“I really enjoyed my tennis and really enjoyed being on the court and competing in the big moments. I’m really happy with the way I handled the opportunity and I think I’m doing it a lot this year. I know I lost in a lot of finals so it’s good to take the jackpot today, ”he said.
Norrie’s path to the top of the sport has been unique, from his initial decision to take the longest path to professional gaming by first attending college, to the slow progression in his rankings he has made since graduating. beginnings. He may not have received the hype from his peers for much of his career, but here he is, demanding it by the force of his results.
“I still don’t really know what I’m going through,” he said. “It’s been an amazing few weeks and I’m so happy with the way I handled all the chances, all the big moments, all the games. I’m so happy, so happy to win my biggest title.
In the thrilling and tense women’s final, 23-year-old Spaniard Paula Badosa recovered to defeat Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-6 (2) in over three hours and win her very first WTA 1000 title. Azarenka served for the match and led 5-4, 30-0 in the third set, but lost her serve with four errors. Badosa boldly closed the final set tiebreak with four winners to seal a victory that propelled her into the top eight of the WTA race ahead of the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.