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Saturday, October 21, 2023

Britain’s Norrie reaches Indian Wells final with win over Dimitrov

Cameron Norrie is likely to make it into the world’s top 20 for the first time when the rankings are published on Monday
Date: Sunday, 17 October Time: 00:00 BST (Monday, 18 October) Venue: Indian Wells Tennis Garden, California
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and on the BBC Sport website and app

Britain’s Cameron Norrie reached his first Masters 1,000 final at Indian Wells as he breezed past Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.

The world number 26 dominated the semi-final to win 6-2 6-4 in California.

Norrie’s run means he will replace Dan Evans as British number one and on Sunday he will challenge for the biggest title of his career.

The 26-year-old will face world number 39 Taylor Fritz or world number 36 Nikoloz Basilashvili in the final.

“I’m becoming more and more comfortable in Indian Wells and it is the biggest win of my career for sure,” Norrie told Amazon Prime.

“He made it difficult in the second set. I managed to serve well in those games and get through them. I think I had a very good gameplan today.”

Success in the prestigious Indian Wells tournament comes three months after Norrie claimed his first ATP singles title at Mexico’s Los Cabos Open.

This is the sixth final Norrie has reached on tour this year and the match against world number 28 Dimitrov was the 46th he has won in an impressive season.

Norrie also made it to the third round of every Grand Slam except the US Open in 2021 and is now set to break into the world’s top 20 for the first time when the latest rankings are published on Monday.

After battling his way through a demanding opening game to break Dimitrov’s serve, Norrie grew in confidence.

Two swift holds and another break put the Briton 4-0 up before the momentum briefly changed hands.

Dimitrov won two games in a row but the 30-year-old swung a forehand wide to immediately hand another break to Norrie, who wrapped up the opening set in 31 minutes.

A lengthy opening game in the second set eventually went to the indefatigable Norrie as he claimed an early break.

Dimitrov put up more resistance as the set went on but Norrie showed grit to save break point and from there stayed composed to hold serve and close out the win.

Should Norrie come out victorious in Sunday’s final (00:00 BST on Monday), he may give himself a chance of qualifying for the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin.

American Fritz, who beat third seed Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals, and Georgian Basilashvili, who beat second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, play in the other semi-final later on Saturday.

The women’s final will also take place on Sunday and features Paula Badosa and Victoria Azarenka.

‘It was nice to show Laver I can play decent tennis’

Rod Laver was in the crowd watching the semi-final and Norrie said he was grateful to have the chance to prove himself in front of the Australian tennis great.

The Briton explained that the last time Laver watched him play was in the final of the San Diego Open earlier this month, when he lost 6-0 6-2 to Norway’s Casper Ruud.

“It is so special to have him here, ” Norrie said.

“I was destroyed by Casper in that one [in San Diego] and I was thinking, ‘he must think I’m awful at the game’. It was nice to come out here and show him that I could actually play some decent tennis.”

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

There were flashes of brilliance from Dimitrov, but he was far too erratic, and was rarely offered any respite by Norrie.

A class apart in the first four games, Norrie continued to serve well and attack when he could. He ran out a comfortable winner on a very hot desert day.

No British man has ever won the Indian Wells title. If Norrie is successful, he will climb into the world’s top 16 and give himself a realistic chance of qualifying for the end-of-season ATP Finals.

This will be his sixth final of the season: a club in which he only has world number one Novak Djokovic for company.

James Mackreides
James Mackreides
'Mac' is a short tempered former helicopter pilot , now a writer based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Loves dogs, the outdoors and staying far away from the ocean.

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