For the 26-year-old Cameron Norrie, 2021 is proving a remarkable year having collected his first ATP title in Los Cabos to break into the world’s top 30, where he currently sits at 28, the highest spot he has reached in his career following wins over the likes of world No.4 Dominic Thiem and reaching the third round of the Australian and French Opens, plus Wimbledon.
It was tricky for me to get into my rhythm early on. But I was able to hold onto my serve early in the first set and then get some returns when I needed them. Cameron Norrie
Unseeded at the San Diego Open, Norrie has reached the semi-finals after dispatching the fourth seeded Denis Shapovalov in straight sets to record his second win over the Canadian this season, easing comfortably past him
6-3 6-1 to follow up on his win at Queen’s Club in June.
The Johannesburg-born Londoner had beaten his Birmingham compatriot Dan Evans 24-hours earlier to reach the last eight to maintain his challenge to become British number one.
Then he recovered his form after trailing badly in the first se but against Shapovalov, he remained composed throughout, rattling off three games in a row from 3-all to capture the opener, breaking the Canadian twice in the process.
There was nothing Shapovalov could do to stop Norrie roll through the second set which he duly did to wrap up the match.
“It was tricky for me to get into my rhythm early on,” Norrie said later. “But I was able to hold onto my serve early in the first set and then get some returns when I needed them.”
To reach the final the British No.2 will have to get past the top seeded Andrey Rublev who overcame the sixth seeded Diego Schwartzman from Argentina 6-1 7-5.
It took the Russian world No.5 nearly two hours to dispatch the gritty South American and reach his eighth semi-final of the year in his chase for a second title this season.
Rublev looked set to sweep past Schwartzman when he pocketed the first set and broke early to lead in the second only for the Argentine to strike back to nearly force a tie-break when 40-0 up on serve at 6-5 before the Russian won the next five points to claim victory.
“The second set was very tough and enjoyable for the spectators to watch,” Rublev said.
“Every game was really tough with amazing points and the set could have gone either way.”
Meanwhile, second seed Casper Ruud of Norway improved his season’s win-loss record to 45-12 by defeating Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-1 6-4 for his semi-final spot.
World No.10 Ruud will meet Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov who beat Russian Aslan Karatsev 6-1 1-6 6-2 to keep up his own challenge.
“This is my first semi-final on hard court after reaching the quarters in Toronto and Cincinnati, so it’s another important step in my young career,” Ruud, who is edging closer to making the ATP Tour Finals in Turin (14-21 November) said.
“It gives me confidence for tomorrow and the belief that I can beat good players on this surface.”
Dimitrov, who had not reached a semi-final since Antwerp last October, commented ahead of their meeting: “Casper is a great player who has been having a great year. He’ll be a very tough opponent, but I’ll just be focusing on my side of the net. I’ll do everything possible to stop him.”