Cam Norrie’s passable impression of Rafael Nadal continues – an aggressive lefthanded baseliner with acute concentration bullying his way into big finals.
The 26 year-old southpaw powered his way into the championship match at the BNP Paribas Open when he defeated former world No 3 Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4 in a 86 -minute semi-final.
He will be bidding to become the first British player to win this title in its 45-year existence, as it was never the happiest hunting ground for Andy Murray.
British No 1 Cam Norrie celebrates after reaching the final at Indian Wells on Saturday
After an unpredictable 10 days he was awaiting the winner between American Taylor Fritz and Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, both of whom are ranked lower.
Fairly astonishingly, after the triumph of Emma Raducanu in New York it will mean two different Brits playing significant finals on either side of America within a month of each other.
Norrie is now guaranteed a minimum £466,000 prize money, and in a sign of his versatility has reached a final on clay, grass and hard courts this season. He is also moving right into contention to gain a place in next month’s year-end tour finals, switched to Italy this year.
‘I’m so happy, I really enjoyed my time on the court today,’ he said. ‘Grigor didn’t bring his best today but I will take it. I was very solid, I hit a lot to his backhand and he was getting pretty frustrated.
‘I felt really good coming out. I was really physical, putting a lot of balls in the court and was able to dictate with my forehand. I am becoming more comfortable in Indian Wells and it’s the biggest win of my career.
‘Turin is on the cards now and that’s really special. Hopefully I can bring the same level tomorrow.’
The 26-year-old beat Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets in their semi-final clash
Once again Norrie’s combination of spun forehand and cleverly directed backhand, which he hits flat with little backswing, proved hugely effective. Often it forced the Bulgarian into errors as he tried to avoid long rallies.
Notable, also, has been Norrie’s Nadal-esque focus on every point, and his ability to reset after any setback. Perhaps nobody in the men’s game has emerged a better player from the pandemic and he has closed to within four of a half-century of main draw wins this year.
Norrie will have been heartened by his only previous meeting with Dimitrov this year, a straight sets win in Miami, where the courts are slightly quicker and would give him less of an edge than those in the Californian desert.
Dimitrov, however, had this week belied the perception that he can be soft by scoring impressive comeback wins over US Open champion Daniil Medvedev and Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz.
While he might be said to be part of men’s tennis’s lost generation there has never been any doubt about his pure talent, nor the elegance of game style that has drawn so many comparisons with Federer.
The stadium crowd was again much more sparse than would usually be the case, and this event will be delighted to revert to its usual slot in March next year and get closer to its normal numbers. Film star Charlize Theron and Australian legend Rod Laver were among those sprinkling some stardust on the assembly.
Norrie is now certain to crack the world’s top 20 thanks to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Dimitrov
As in his previous match against Diego Schwartzmann, Norrie raced away to a 4-0 lead. He then played a solitary poor game but then resumed as if nothing had happened.
Dimitrov briefly threatened when he came close wiping out his opponent’s 2-0 lead in the second set. This being his first Masters level semi-final one might have expected Norrie to get more nervous within sight of the winning post, but he came out to serve for it at 5-4 as if it was a knock-up in the park.
Murray, Tim Henman and Greg Rusdeski have all made the final at this extravagant venue in the past but failed to win it. The force seems to be with Norrie to go one better.
There had been expectations that it would be Raducanu, rather than him, who would still be around for the Indian Wells finals weekend.
She is now preparing for next week’s Transylvania Open in Romania, but has left behind a further reminder of the state of flux that exists in the current women’s game.
Sunday’s final will be between world No 32 Victoria Azarenka and the number 27, Paula Badosa from Spain. While it will have been less noticed than in New York, none of the top eight seeds managed to make the women’s quarter finals.