Cameron Norrie withstood the heat of the southern Californian sun and the firepower of Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili to become the first Briton to lift the Indian Wells Masters trophy as he continues to march through his breakthrough season.
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. Cameron Norrie
His achievement also lifts him 11 places in the world rankings to 15 as he overtake Dan Evans – who slips down a spot to 23 – as British number one.
As expected in the BNP Paribas Open final, Basilashvili’s powerful game had Norrie searching for answers in the first set, but once he resorted to his trademark style of play of keeping his opponent on the run, the Georgian ran out of steam, capitulating 3-6 6-4 6-1 after one-hour and 49-minutes.
It is the 26-year-old’s second title having won his first at Los Cabos earlier in the year. It is also a very satisfying achievement having now won an event which had eluded the modern day greats of the British game, namely Greg Rusedski who made the final in 1998, Tim Henman, a finalist in 2002 and 2004 and the most recent runner-up, Sir Andy Murray, in 2009.
“I am so happy, this is my biggest title,” said Norrie following his 47th win of the season in his sixth final of the year.
The big-hitting Basilashvili was nearly flawless during the first hour to lead by a set and a break only to star fading as Norrie played his endurance card.
From 1-3 in the second, he settled down to ensure all shots were returned and got the upper hand with another service break in the 10th game to go on and level the match.
Another early break in the second game of the third set put Norrie in the driving seat, but Basilashvili won a six-minute long fourth game to cut the deficit to 3-1 but that only proved to be his final effort. He tried to regroup by taking a comfort break after the fifth game but two games later on match point, simply belted a forehand long to bring the final to a conclusion.
“I was a little bit uncomfortable. It was quite windy,” Norrie said. “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.
“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.”
Norrie, who played college tennis in the USA at TCU, also picks up the biggest cheque of his career, just over $1.2 million.
“I’ve been really enjoying my tennis and been enjoying being out on court and competing in the big moments,” Norrie added. “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.”
The 29-year-old Basilashvili was going for his third title of the season and with Stefanos Tsitsipas scalp on his racket – he beat the second seed from Greece in the quarter-finals – he was always going to be a dangerous adversary but after the match, revealed he had some health issue but would not elaborate.
“I was very tight. I had some health problems in the third set. I tried to go out and take a breath but could not recover. I didn’t have anything left,” said Basilashvili.
Norrie hit just one ace and delivered two double faults but won 77% of his first serves and played better in the crucial moments. He also converted five of the eight breakpoints he held while saving three of the six Bashilashvili created.
“It has been an incredible week. I was expecting it to be a longer match and he made a couple of errors at the end,” Norrie said following his triumph.