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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, October 16, 2021

 
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No. 21-seeded Cameron Norrie broke to start both sets sweeping Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4 to reach his first Masters 1000 final in Indian Wells.

Photo credit: BNP Paribas Open Facebook

Unerring precision and smooth movement fuels Cameron Norrie’s continued upward mobility.

The 26-year-old Norrie dissected Grigor Dimitrov with crisp combinations 6-2, 6-4 charging into his sixth final of the season and first career Masters 1000 final in Indian Wells.

Fritz: Best Win of My Life

Norrie broke to open both sets and never trailed raising his 2021 record to 46-20—he owns two more wins than world No. 1 Novak Djokovic this year—becoming the first British man to reach the BNP Paribas Open final since Andy Murray in 2009.




It was an impeccable performance from Norrie, who cruised into his second straight final following his runner-up result in San Diego.

The former NCAA No. 1 at TCU has been second to none this week knocking off Tennys Sandgren, Roberto Bautista Agut, Tommy Paul, Diego Schwartzman and Dimitrov.

"The last two days have been the biggest matches of my career, so I'm going to go out there and it's going to be my biggest match of my career again tomorrow. Go out there and hopefully do more of the same," Norrie said. There's a lot of work to be done. I'm looking forward to the occasion. Feeling all the nerves and all the pressure, it's definitely great to experience that. Looking forward to feeling that and the whole experience of the whole thing."

Now, Norrie will try to make history and become the first British man to win Indian Wells when he takes on Nikoloz Basilashvili in tomorrow's final.

The 29th-seeded Basilashvili beat 31st-seeded American Taylor Fritz 7-6(5), 6-3 in today's second semifinal.

For the first time in 280 Masters 1000 tournaments, all four semifinalists are ranked outside the Top 25.

This Indian Wells surge has been career changing powering Norrie to the British No. 1 ranking and the world’s Top 20 in the live rankings for the first time.




On a hot, sunny day, Norrie confounded Dimitrov mixing his lefty loopy topspin forehand with his flat two-handed backhand—two completely different shots. Former US Open semifinalist Dimitrov was nine for nine on net points and probably should have pushed forward more frequently, but the Bulgarian may well have been drained from emotional comeback wins over US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and Miami Open title holder Hubert Hurkacz.

Before a festive crowd that included Hall of Famer Rod Laver, tournament director Tommy Haas and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, Dimitrov and Norrie squared off for the second time following the Briton’s 7-5, 7-5 victory at the Miami Open last March.

Playing his seventh Masters semifinal, Dimitrov opened with a double fault and felt the strain posed by Norrie’s patience. The new British No. 1 drew a netted error breaking in the opening game. Shifting his loopy lefty topspin forehand into the corners, Norrie confirmed the break at 15 for 2-0.

The precision of Norrie’s baseline drives gave the Bulgarian little room to operate. Norrie pasted a flat strike from his two-handed backhand right off the baseline for his second straight beak and a 3-0 lead.

Nineteen minutes into the match, Dimitrov finally cracked the scoreboard holding in the fifth game.

Serving for the set, Norrie pumped his first ace and slid a serve winner holding at love for a one-set lead after 31 minutes.




The 30-year-old Dimitrov nearly doubled Norrie’s unforced error output in the opening set—11 to 6—and found himself down a set for the third consecutive match.

Though Dimitrov created compelling comebacks conquering top-seeded Daniil Medvedev 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) in succession, holding serve proved problematic against the left-handed Briton.

Tennis Express

Dimitrov denied three break points, but Norrie tormented the Bulgarian’s backhand wing with some high heavy topspin coaxing the error for the break to start the second set.

In a tactical shift, Dimitrov began hitting the one-handed slice backhand more frequently denying Norrie much pace to work with. Still, the 21st seed hung tough erasing a break point. When Dimitrov sailed a forehand he nearly dropped to his knees in disappointment behind the baseline as Norrie dodged the drama for 3-1 at the one-hour mark.




Trapping the 2017 ATP Finals champion in his backhand corner, Norrie twirled a topspin forehand down the line holding from love-30 down for 4-2.

Serving for the biggest final of his career, Norrie slid his fourth ace to open and quickly moved to triple match point. When Dimitrov’s final backhand return found the net, Norrie bellowed a firm “come on!” celebrating his sixth final of the season.

 

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