Cameron Norrie pulled of the upset of the day if not the week, when he ousted in a superb display of gritty tennis, the top seeded Andrey Rublev in the semi-finals of the San Diego Open for the chance to earn his second career title on the ATP Tour,
It's such a big win for me. It's definitely a match that I'm going to remember for a long time Cameron Norrie
The British No.2, world ranked 28, and unseeded for the event, rallied back from the loss of the opening set to dismiss the Russian 3-6 6-3 6-4 and will face, on Sunday, the second seed Casper Ruud in the final.
Norrie, who captured his first Tour title in Los Cabos, Mexico in July, dropped the first set in 35-minutes, but turned the tide in his favour when he saved three break points in the third game of the second set to reach his fifth final of the year.
Having gained a break of his own, Norrie maintained pressure forcing Rublev, the world No.4, into a series of errors to the continued frustration of the Russian manifesting in several outbursts including a thrown racket.
The Muscovite, making his eighth semi-final appearance of the season, also seemed disturbed by the noise of planes taking off from nearby Lindbergh Field.
But it was Norrie’s forehand which caused the Russian the most problems as he was continually dragged around the court by it and was never allowed to resettle and gain the rhythm he had in the opener.
“All credit to Andrey, he came out firing,” Norrie, who saved eight of nine break points he faced, said. “He played some big tennis at the beginning, and I managed to weather the storm at the start of the second.
“It’s such a big win for me. It’s definitely a match that I’m going to remember for a long time.
“To beat someone like Andrey, who I respect; he’s one of my favourite players on the tour, its huge to me.”
Norrie started the match well, but Rublev broke to go 3-1 up and maintained his advantage after that, taking the set at his third attempt.
The Johannesburg-born Londoner though, roared back taking a 4-1 in the second, a lead he never lost He was also the first to break in the decider where he held firm despite everything that his friend Rublev, could throw at him. clinching the win with a forehand winner for his second career win over a top-five player.
Meanwhile in the second semi-final, Ruud outlasted the unseeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov over two-hours and 30-minutes, 6-4 4-6 6-4.
The Norwegian 22-year-old, who has won four titles in 2021, advanced for a chance of adding a fifth, when Dimitrov returned a shot in the net following a dogged battle between the pair.
“It was high level from the first point to the last. I’m happy to be in my first hard-court final,” Ruud, whose five career titles won so far have been on clay.
There is plenty at stake for both players in the final but perhaps more so with Norrie who is six places below Dan Evans in world ranking terms and is looking to narrowing the gap to eventually take over as the British No.1 having now beaten the Brummie twice this season, the last time in the second round only a few days earlier.
“I’m just trying to enjoy today but I’m looking forward to tomorrow; I’ll try to rest up and get ready for that,” Norrie said. “I’ve been watching both of them this week, and they’ve been playing some of their top level. I’m looking forward to that one tomorrow.”