Cameron Norrie has soared into contention for a place at the Nitto ATP Finals after he captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open, where he overcame Nikoloz Basilashvili in the final.
The Briton was in 14th position in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin prior to the start of Indian Wells, but has surged to 10th (on 2,795 points) after he clinched the biggest trophy of his career. The 26-year-old is now just 160 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz, who occupies the final qualifying spot on 2,955 points. Rafael Nadal is currently eighth, but has stopped his season due to a foot injury.
Norrie, who won his maiden ATP Tour crown at the Mifel Open in Los Cabos in July, is aiming to make his debut at the prestigious season finale, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November.
“Even before the tournament I was in the hunt. I think before I was 14 or 15 in the Race. I had a chance,” Norrie said in his post-match press conference in Indian Wells. “I was thinking about it. If you think about it too much, it can't be good for you. I'm playing Vienna, Paris, and Stockholm, the last three events indoors. It would be nice to make it, but I'm going to keep going, keep taking care of what I can and handling what I can.
“I think even being in the conversation this late in the year, I think that's impressive for me. If you would have told me before the year that would be the case, I would have been happy. I think that's a lot of good progression.”
Norway’s Casper Ruud has strengthened his bid to qualify, rising to seventh on 3,015 points after he advanced to the fourth round in Indian Wells. The 22-year-old has enjoyed a career-best season, capturing a tour-leading five titles this year. In July, he became the first player since Andy Murray in October 2011 to complete an ATP Tour hat-trick, triumphing in Bastad, Gstaad and Kitzbühel in three consecutive weeks.
Italy’s Matteo Berrettini remains in sixth (4,000) and is close to securing his second qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals, having made his debut at the event in 2019. #NextGenATP stars Jannik Sinner of Italy and Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime are 11th (2,595) and 12th (2,330) respectively, and remain in the mix with less than one month to go in the regular ATP Tour season.
Hubert Hurkacz on Monday became the second man from Poland to break into the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings when he reached a career-high World No. 10. The 24-year-old is the 174th player to join the elite group and the second this year, alongside Norwegian Casper Ruud.
This year’s Miami champion is the first man from his country to accomplish the feat since Wojtek Fibak, who climbed to a career-high World No. 10 on 25 July 1977. Hurkacz began the season at World No. 34.
“We have been working with my coach, CB [Craig Boynton], for [a] couple of years already, but the work we have been doing every single day, last year as well, we have been working very hard,” Hurkacz said during a press conference in Cincinnati. “I think just that's a process and I'm improving my game. I try to get better every single day.”
It has been a year of firsts for Hurkacz, who has become a contender at the biggest tournaments on the circuit. The Polish star won his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami and advanced to his first major semi-final at Wimbledon.
Hurkacz has enjoyed good results this year, and he has also impressed his peers in the process. Former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov needed a final-set tie-break to claw past Hurkacz in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals, and was quick to praise the Pole.
“He served amazing. I even told him after the match at the net. I think he's improved amazingly on the serve. At some point I had to even guess where he's going to go,” Dimitrov said. “He's such a nice guy. It's so nice to have him on Tour. Always very friendly, very easy to talk to. We've hit quite a few times against each other in Monaco. We have very friendly vibes all in all, which is great.”
As Dimitrov said, Hurkacz is known for his smile and kindness off the court. But on it, the winner of three trophies this season has been working hard alongside coach Craig Boynton to craft one of the most dangerous games on the ATP Tour.
“We’re always searching for improvements until he wants to put down the racquets and do something different. What you work on might change, because you sit down with a set of goals and once you achieve those goals, you need to replace them with new ones,” Boynton said. “The better you get, the harder you’ve got to work for the smaller improvement.”
This week four years ago, Hurkacz was outside the World’s Top 400. But the 6’5” right-hander steadily improved and in 2018 he competed in the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
“I have been playing tennis since I was a young kid,” Hurkacz said in Cincinnati. “So now being able to play on the biggest stages, it's a lot of fun.”
With Hurkacz up to No. 10, Roger Federer falls from No. 9 to No. 11. It is the first time Federer has been outside the Top 10 since January 2017.
Editor's Note: Cameron Norrie now trails Hubert Hurkacz by 160 points in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, not 125 points.
Imagine preparing for the biggest match of your life only to realise your tennis shoes have gone missing! Cameron Norrie faced that challenge on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open, but nothing was able to stop the Briton, who captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title despite the mystery of the missing shoes.
“Every day I left my shoes on top of the locker. I think someone, I don't know who it was, maybe someone from the cleaners or something last night, came through and they threw the three pairs of shoes that I had away,” Norrie said. “I looked all day. I had everyone looking. I don't know what the people have against the Brits with stealing the shoes, but I didn't manage to get them back. Just had to go out there with a fresh pair of shoes.
“It was just difficult. Luckily I didn't have a wedding ring attached. I didn't lose that, so it was a bonus for me.”
It was reminiscent of an incident earlier in the tournament, when Andy Murray left a pair of smelly shoes under his car to air them out. When he woke up, they were gone, and so was his wedding ring, which was attached to the shoelaces. Eventually, the former World No. 1 recovered the shoes.
Norrie did not, but that did not stop him from rallying past Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets to become the first male British singles champion in tournament history.
“I don't think it mattered too much. Ideally I like to play with shoes that I've been using for maybe five or six hits or practices or warmups. I like to have them a little bit used. They feel a bit heavy in general if they're a bit newer,” Norrie said. “A couple times I was just thinking about it, probably not the best thing. You don't want to be thinking about your shoes. A little bit to get used to.
“At one point I said, ‘All right, these are the shoes I got, I'm just going to focus on what I can control right now.’ I wore them in a little bit, came good in the end.”
Norrie began the tournament at a career-high World No. 26 and enjoying the best season of his career. But he had never previously made a Masters 1000 quarter-final. Was the run surprising for the lefty?
“I think it's a little bit surprising. Starting the tournament, you're a little bit nervous, you're not really sure, not used to the conditions. You're not feeling good. I had a couple of tough matches early on,” Norrie said. “I think it just shows if you stick around in these big events, obviously it was pretty miraculous that all the top guys lost, and when I looked at the four semi-finalists, ‘Hmm, it's a good opportunity here.’ Didn't really want to get too far ahead of myself.”
It was been an incredible season for the 26-year-old, who was World No. 71 at the start of the year. Now, Norrie is in 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, just 160 points out of the final qualifying spot for the Nitto ATP Finals.
“I think honestly doing it this way, getting slowly, slowly better every year, improving little things, I don't think I've missed anything, made any big jumps. I've been working extremely hard. I've got a lot of great people around me that's wanting the best for me,” Norrie said. “We're taking care of all the little details on the court, off the court, and we all have the same goal in mind. When that all comes together, it definitely helps.”
The two-time ATP Tour titlist was still taking it all in during his post-match press conference. But one thing was clear: Norrie was over the moon after the tournament of his life.
“What an incredible week I've had here,” Norrie said. “I still don't really know what I'm experiencing. It was an amazing couple weeks and I'm so happy with how I treated all the occasions, all the big moments, all the matches. I'm so happy, so pleased to win my biggest title.”
Cameron Norrie is an ATP Masters 1000 champion for the first time after capturing the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open over Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets on Sunday.
The World No. 26 became the first man ranked outside the Top 25 to win in the desert since Ivan Ljubicic in 2010 and jumped to 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. The 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 result over the 29th seed came on the back of 10 winners and 25 unforced errors and handed him a second title this season from his sixth final (d. Nakashima in Los Cabos).
“It means so much to me, my biggest title. I’m so happy. I can’t even describe it right now,” Norrie said in his on-court interview. “It was a strange match today but absolutely massive for me and my team. I can’t really believe it. If you’d have told me I’d have won before the tournament started I wouldn’t have believed you, so it’s amazing.”
In the second ATP Masters 1000 final this year between players ranked outside the Top 25, after Hubert Hurkacz defeated Jannik Sinner in Miami, Norrie became the first British man to win in Indian Wells. Before this year, he had not won a match in two prior main draw appearances.
But after wins over Tennys Sandgren, Roberto Bautista Agut, Tommy Paul, Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov and Basilashvili, he departs Indian Wells at a career-high No. 16 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and as the new British No. 1.
“I was a little bit uncomfortable. It was quite windy and… for a stage he went through, 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,” Norrie said. “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.”
From an early break down at 1-3, the Georgian began to find his range and won 10 of the next 11 points as his pace of shot from the back of the court began to gain the better of his opponent. Off the back foot, the Georgian whipped a forehand winner into the corner to bring up a break point at 4-3 and put the foot down as he won the last five games of the set.
It was the first time all tournament Norrie had dropped the opening set and if he was to become the first British man to win in the desert he was going to have to win from a set down for the eighth time this season. There were ominous signs when the Briton angled a backhand volley wide to surrender the early break for 2-1 in the second set, but a loose game from the Georgian brought the pair back level.
Norrie was knocking on the door and took his chances when Basilashvili served to stay in the set. The 26-year-old completed a run of eight straight points as he broke to level the match at the 71-minute mark and carried the momentum to an early break in the deciding set.
Basilashvili had his chances with three break point opportunities at 0-2, but Norrie’s retrieval skills came to the fore. His hold proved telling as his opponent struggled to rein in a mounting error count and the match was in the bag after one hour and 51 minutes.
“I’ve been really enjoying my tennis and been enjoying being out on court and competing in the big moments,” Norrie said. “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.”
Cristian Garin has become a consistent presence deep in tournaments, winning five ATP Tour titles since the start of 2019. This week, the Chilean will try to add to that tally at the European Open in Antwerp, where he is the third seed.
ATPTour.com caught up with Garin to discuss his life on Tour, the three cities he favours, how he deals with jetlag and more.
What are two essential non-tennis items you always pack for trips?
I like books, I like to read. I think it gives me something different. When I read I feel I can focus more on myself and I really like to read.
I also like to travel with the recovery boots. It is a thing that I started to use last year. I use them to recover in the room. I have been using that a lot in the past two years. With the pandemic, the tournaments are putting more things in the hotels, more recovery areas, which is a pretty good thing for us. I have been using them a lot.
Do you enjoy travelling the world or consider it just something that needs to be done to be a pro tennis player? If you do enjoy it, what do you enjoy about travelling?
I enjoy it. Sometimes the weeks are tough. You go to places where you can’t enjoy the city or place much. Sometimes you just want to get back home. Your friends say, ‘Why did you not go there or go there?’ or this kind of thing. But you reply to them saying you are here working and focusing on tennis, so sometimes you can’t enjoy the places.
But I really like to travel. My dream was to be a tennis player and now I am playing with the best.
Can you talk about a time you decided to play a specific tournament in part because you wanted to travel to that city?
When I choose the tournament, it is because I like the tournament and the conditions or there are not many options with the schedule. But there are tournaments that I like more than others, so it is a good time of the year when I play those tournaments.
What is your favourite tournament city to visit and why?
I love the U.S. I love Miami and New York. In Europe, I love Paris. Those are my three favourite cities. The Eiffel Tower I have visited many times. When I am in Europe, when I have a week off, I really like to practise in Paris. My best friend lives there and I like to go there when I am in Europe. In the U.S., I have been practising a lot in Miami.
Where is your favourite vacation destination?
I like to be in Chile. Chile is beautiful, I love the country. As a tennis player, I travel a lot. So, when I have holidays, I like to be at home in Chile. It is my place to be when I am not on the Tour.
What is your craziest travel story?
I have never missed any flights, but last year the airplane was having a problem. It was a pretty small airplane, there were 10 people on the flight and we were going from Nice to Barcelona and we had 30 minutes in the air. I saw a red light in the cockpit and I remember that the pilot turned around and said, ‘Guys, we have to go back, we have a problem, but don’t worry.’
But when he said don’t worry, I was dying, so nervous, because we had 30 minutes in the air, which is a lot. We were going back to the airport we started [at], so that was crazy. I remember when he was going down pretty fast and that was terrible. After that we had to change the plane. I didn’t want to go on another plane, I just wanted to go to the hotel and rest!
Are there any routines or activities you do to create a sense of home on the road to feel more comfortable?
It is always tough. It is important for me to have recovery areas or now with the rules, you have time to go out or you can have dinner at a restaurant. That is pretty important to me to have that relief. After the day you can go for a walk or see the city or go to have a coffee.
But in tennis I like to be very focused, so when I finish the day, I like to get some rest and be more relaxed and have a good balance between being focused on the tournament and enjoyment.
How do you try to overcome jetlag and acclimatise to the local time zone?
When I have long flights, the first thing I try to do is to go [on the] bike when I get to the hotel. I try to do at least 20 minutes on the bike then stretch and then I try to sleep. With the jetlag, it is not easy to handle for me.
Sometimes I try to get to the tournament one week or even five days before to get used to the jetlag. I try to go on the bike and get a good sleep. You have to resist [sleeping] until the time. The first day is the most important for me, you have to resist and try to sleep at a decent time. There are no more secrets.
Got any tips to get comfortable on a flight? And how do you pass the time?
I don’t have many problems with flying. I don’t have a problem with sleeping on the flight, I just try to watch a TV show with my airpods. Just put the headphones on and watch a TV show. Most of the time I sleep a lot on flights, which is pretty good. It is not easy from what I have heard from other people.
Are you someone who gets to the airport with lots of time to spare or do you cut it fine?
Very late! I have good timings to get to airports. I have been travelling my whole life. One thing I learned was when to get to the airport at a good time. It is a good thing because every week I go to a different airport, so I know how to handle it.
Frances Tiafoe beat Andy Murray less than two months ago in Winston-Salem. At the European Open in Antwerp, Murray will have a chance to earn revenge against the American.
Murray will play Tiafoe for the third time in their ATP Head2Head series, it was revealed when the draw for the ATP 250 was made this weekend. The former World No. 1 triumphed in their first clash last year at the Western & Southern Open.
"My level is around 50 or 60 in the world. It's frustrating because if wasn't moving great and not feeling good physically then I would be a bit easier on myself,” Murray said. “But when I'm winning a low percentage of second-serve points, that's got nothing to do with the physical side of things.”
Murray won just 47 per cent of his second-serve points against Tiafoe in August, and will try to turn that around on the indoor hard courts of Antwerp, where the Scot memorably claimed his 46th tour-level singles title — and his first after his most recent hip surgery — two years ago. The winner will face second seed Diego Schwartzman.
Another intriguing first-round match will see Belgian wild card Zizou Bergs challenge seventh seed Lloyd Harris. In 2019, Bergs upset Ramos-Vinolas on home soil and pushed Karen Khachanov in a tough three-setter.
Eight seed Dusan Lajovic will have his hands full against former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet. In their only previous clash three years ago in Madrid, Lajovic needed two tie-breaks to dispatch Gasquet.
Former Champions To Meet In Moscow Opener
Marin Cilic and Damir Dzumhur have both emerged victorious at the VTB Kremlin Cup, but only one will advance to the second round. Cilic, the two-time tournament champion and Dzumhur, the the 2017 champion, will meet for the second time (Cilic leads 1-0).
Top seed Andrey Rublev received a bye into the second round, in which he will play countryman Roman Safiullin, a wild card, or Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Rublev defeated Mandarin 6-4, 6-0 in the Moscow final two years ago.
Although both men are unseeded, one of the most intriguing first-round matches at the VTB Kremlin Cup is between Australian John Millman and Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.
Millman, last year’s Nur-Sultan champion, is one of the toughest outs on the ATP Tour due to his fighting spirit and physical game. Bonzi, however, is full of confidence thanks to winning six ATP Challenger Tour titles this year.
The ATP Tour moves to Europe this week, where there will be two ATP 250 events on indoor hard courts. Jannik Sinner leads the way as the top seed at the European Open in Antwerp, and Andrey Rublev will try to retain his trophy in Moscow at the VTB Kremlin Cup.
ATPTour.com looks at five things to watch at each tournament.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN ANTWERP
1) Sinner’s Turin Push: Washington champion Sinner is still in contention for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. The Italian trails ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz, who currently sits in the last qualifying position [Rafael Nadal, eighth in the Race, will not compete in Turin due to a foot injury] by 360 points.
Sinner will play a countryman — Gianluca Mager or #NextGenATP Lorenzo Musetti — in the second round. The 20-year-old made the semi-finals on his Antwerp debut in 2019.
2) De Minaur & Schwartzman Chasing Title: Australian Alex de Minaur enjoyed a run to the championship match in Antwerp in 2020 and will look to go one step better this year and capture his third tour-level title of the season. Seeded sixth, he faces a qualifier in the first round.
Argentine Schwartzman, who reached the final at the ATP 250 event in 2016 and 2017, arrives in form after advancing to the quarter-finals in San Diego and Indian Wells.
3) Murray Accepts Wild Card: Former World No. 1 Murray will compete in Antwerp, where he went on a magical run to the title in 2019, overcoming Stan Wawrinka for the trophy. The 34-year-old arrives at the European Open off the back of advancing to the third round in Indian Wells, where he beat #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. The Scot will play American Frances Tiafoe in the first round, with Schwartzman looming in the second round.
4) Bergs Is Back: Last year in Antwerp, Zizou Bergs made his mark as the World No. 528, stunning Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas before pushing Karen Khachanov deep into a third set in the second round before falling short. Bergs, now inside the Top 200, is back at the ATP 250 as he tries for another big showing on home soil. The Belgian, who is a wild card alongside Murray and Richard Gasquet, opens against seventh seed Lloyd Harris.
5) Malisse Returns With Pupil: Xavier Malisse, the 41-year-old Belgian who cracked the world’s Top 25 in singles and doubles, will compete for the first time in more than five years this week. The 2004 Roland Garros doubles champion (w/Rochus) will play doubles alongside the player he coaches, Harris. This will be Malisse’s first appearance at any level since the Meerbusch ATP Challenger Tour event in 2016. The top seeds in the doubles draw are Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, who made the Indian Wells semi-finals.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN MOSCOW
1) Former Champions In Action: World No. 5 Rublev is the reigning champion in Moscow and returns to defend his title as he aims to win his second tour-level trophy of the season. Croatian Marin Cilic, who captured the crown in 2014 and 2015, 2017 winner Damir Dzumhur and 2018 titlist Karen Khachanov are also in the field.
2) Home Hopes: Rublev, Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Khachanov and 2021 breakthrough star Aslan Karatsev are the leading Russian hopes in Moscow. Karatsev and Rublev will take confidence into their home tournament after reaching the doubles final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Rublev and Khachanov are former singles champions in Moscow, while Karatsev will compete at the event without having to go through qualifying for the first time. This year’s Australian Open semi-finalist is 1-4 at the ATP 250.
3) Bublik Rising: Alexander Bublik has enjoyed the best season of his career, reaching a career-high World No. 34 in September. The Kazakshtani has reached ATP Tour finals this season in Antalya and Singapore. The fifth seed will try to earn his first tour-level crown in Moscow, where he made the quarter-finals as a qualifier in 2016 and 2017.
4) Russian Wild Cards: The three singles wild cards were awarded to Russians, headlined by the country’s ATP Cup captain, Evgeny Donskoy. The 31-year-old made the semi-finals here in 2015. Roman Safiullin and Alibek Kachmazov also received wild cards, and they will play Frenchman Adrian Mannarino and Argentine Federico Coria, respectively.
5) Klaasen/McLachlan Top Seeds: The top seeds in the doubles draw are Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan, who won the Washington title together earlier this year. Although Karatsev and Rublev made the final as a team in Indian Wells, Karatsev will pair with countryman Richard Muzaev and Rublev will play alongside Khachanov. The second seeds are Andrey Golubev and Hugo Nys.
Cameron Norrie’s breakthrough season is set to hit fever pitch on Sunday as he meets Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili at the BNP Paribas Open in his first ATP Masters 1000 final.
The Brit started the year at No. 71 in the FedEx ATP Rankings but has earned a career-best 46 tour-level wins in 2021. Norrie’s run to his sixth ATP Tour final of the season in Indian Wells will propel him into the Top 20 for the first time and see him replace Daniel Evans as the new British No. 1 on Monday.
Most Finals In 2021
If this was not enough for Norrie to get excited about, a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November, is now firmly in view for the 26-year-old.
If Norrie can overcome Basilashvili and capture his second tour-level title of the season, having won his maiden trophy at this level in Los Cabos, he will soar to 10th place in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. It will see the Brit just 160 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz, who currently occupies the last qualifying spot, with Rafael Nadal, currently eighth, not competing due to a foot injury.
Before this year, the Londoner had never won a main draw match in two previous appearances in Indian Wells. Following his semi-final victory over Grigor Dimitrov, Norrie became only the fourth Brit to reach the final in California.
“I think it's very special, especially looking at the other names, Greg, Tim and Andy, all British tennis icons and legends. To be added to that list is extremely special for me,” Norrie said. “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.
“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.”
Norrie is aiming to become the first Brit to win the Masters 1000 hard-court event and will carry a 1-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his meeting with Basilashvili, having defeated the World No. 36 in Rotterdam in March.
Basilashvili will also be competing for the biggest title of his career on Sunday after he moved past American Taylor Fritz in straight sets to advance to his maiden Masters 1000 final and become the first Georgian to reach the championship match at this level.
The 29-year-old had suffered five first-round defeats from six appearances at Masters 1000 level this year, but has enjoyed a dream run in the desert. Basilashvili upset World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals and will be aiming to clinch his third tour-level crown of the season against Norrie after triumphing in Doha and Munich.
On facing Norrie, Basilashvili said: “[He is a] really interesting player. He's playing very well at this tournament. He had previous really good weeks. I will study him today and come up with a plan.
“But overall, he's not so nice to play against from the baseline. He's been playing really, really smart and very good tennis. I'm looking forward. If I can play my game and be relaxed, I think I can play well.”
Did You Know?
Norrie or Basilashvili will become the sixth different player to win a Masters 1000 title this season, joining Hubert Hurkacz, Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev (twice), Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev.
John Peers and Filip Polasek survived a rollercoaster second set to edge Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev 6-3 7-6(5) to win the BNP Paribas Open doubles title Saturday night.
The Australian-Slovakian duo was unable to convert two match points on Rublev's serve at 5-3 and then dropped serve in the following game when trying to serve out the match. The teams then traded breaks before entering a tie-break, in which Peers and Polasek rallied from 3/5 down to clinch the title.
“It’s always great fun getting back to the desert and playing here,” Peers said. “To be able to say we have won the title here is very special. We started pretty slow as a team but we put in some good work pre-US Open.
“It’s been a lot of fun since and we’ve continued to work and enjoy playing together. We’re riding the doubles rollercoaster and will try to get results like this more often. We’re looking forward to continuing together."
Peers, 33, and Polasek, 36, continued their strong recent form, having reached the final at the San Diego Open leading into the tournament.
Peers won his fourth ATP Masters 1000 title (first since Canada 2018) and his 25th career title. Polasek won his 16th title and second Masters 1000 (Cincinnati 2019).
”I’m really happy the way we played,” Polasek said. “We came here early, which helped us to adapt to the conditions. It was very different to play in the day than in the night sessions, which we played in our last matches, and we were probably able to adapt the best of all teams.”
Karatsev, 28, and Rublev, 23, were on an eight-match winning streak. They won the Doha title earlier in the year.
After a season of discontent at ATP Masters 1000 level, Nikoloz Basilashvili is one win away from the biggest title of his career after fending off Taylor Fritz in the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals Saturday.
The Georgian, who had suffered five first-round losses from six appearances at Masters 1000 level this year heading into Indian Wells, saved three sets points in the first set and all seven break points he faced – including two in the final game – to defeat the 23-year-old American 7-6(5), 6-3 to reach his first final at this level.
Basilashvili had to wait until the sixth game of the second set to earn a break point chance but capitalised fully to break Fritz for a match-breaking 4-2 lead. In Sunday’s final he will play in-form British left-hander Cameron Norrie.
The 29-year-old World No. 36 swung for the fences from the back of the court, ripping 26 winners (including 14 off the forehand) against 32 unforced errors.
“It means a lot [to make my first Masters 1000 final] especially at Indian Wells, which people call it like a fifth Grand Slam… to get through so many matches is very important,” Basilashvili said. “I’m at the top of my game now and feeling the best.
“This was my first time in a Masters 1000 semi-final so I was a little bit tight. I just tried to get rid of [the tension] as much as I could because if I just focus on my game I can play good tennis.”
Although he won just 68 per cent of first-serve points, Basilashvili’s ability to dig in and win extended points, coupled with a 59 per cent winning percentage on second serves, proved telling.
Fritz acknowledged that Basilashvili’s power made it difficult for him to convert his break chances. “I had a lot of chances. It's tough because I got all those chances and break points kind of from being solid and him missing," Fritz said. "It's kind of tough on those break points then to just pull the trigger on balls that I didn't really feel comfortable with. I didn't feel like I had good looks to kind of pull it on a big point.
“His backhand, he definitely hits harder than anybody on tour. The way that it comes through the court so hard and flat and deep, nothing you can really do. Usually I'm pretty good at fighting off the balls at the backhand. It was a bit tough today. He hit a lot of good backhand lines.”
As he looks to avenge his crushing 6-0, 6-3 loss to Norrie in Rotterdam earlier this year, Basilashvili know he faces a stern test. “He’s very uncomfortable to play and he’s in really good shape right now. He’s playing a very interesting game.”
Basilashvili has won five ATP Tour titles, with his first three coming at the 500 level.
Cameron Norrie’s shot at the Nitto ATP Finals kicked into top gear Saturday when he dismissed Grigor Dimitrov to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the BNP Paribas Open.
The 26-year-old Londoner broke Dimitrov at the beginning of both sets to underpin his 6-2, 6-4 win at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"It was the biggest match of my career, following on from yesterday, which was the biggest match," Norrie said. "There was even more pressure today. I came out and played really physical. Grigor was maybe a little tired from the other matches, but he fought hard and made it physical at the start of the second set, which wasn't easy."
Norrie began the tournament 14th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin but displaced Felix Auger-Aliassime in 11th by reaching the final. Should he win his first Masters 1000 title Sunday - against either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Taylor Fritz - he will move past Jannik Sinner in 10th position and to within 160 points of ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz, who currently sits in the last qualifying position. [Rafael Nadal, eighth in the Race, will not compete in Turin due to a foot injury.]
Most Finals In 2021
The defining battle of the match centred around Dimitrov's backhand. The Bulgarian used his slice in earlier victories against Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz to great effect, but it was a different ballgame against the left-handed Norrie.
With his cross-court slice feeding directly into Norrie's forehand, Dimitrov was forced to hit much closer to the baseline and to hit a greater percentage of topspin backhands, both riskier prospects that in part led to an elevated error count.
Norrie, who toed the baseline in an attempt to dictate play, notched his 46th match win of the year and is now within reach of his second title of the season to back up his triumph in Los Cabos.
"I've been playing a lot of big matches this year, which has helped. I feel like I am used to the big moments and the big matches," Norrie said. "I'm feeling more and more comfortable and I feel like I am playing on my terms in key moments."
Coming into the match there was a question mark over the fitness of Dimitrov, who looked physically spent after his draining fourth-round win over Medvedev, when he rallied from a set and a double break down to upset the US Open champion. He then survived a third-set tie-break against eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals, which extended his time on court during the tournament to seven hours and 39 minutes. The 30-year-old has also suffered from allergies during the tournament.
In contrast, Norrie is known as one of the fittest players on Tour and had plenty left in the tank after enjoying a quick 6-0, 6-2 win over Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals.
Norrie began the year No. 71 in the FedEx ATP Rankings but is now guaranteed to break into the Top 20 and become Briton’s No. 1 player for the first time in his career.
Aslan Karatsev dazzled on the baseline and at net Friday night as he teamed with Andrey Rublev to charge into the doubles final at the BNP Paribas Open.
The Russians fell behind 0-3 in the match tie-break against German Tim Puetz and New Zealand's Michael Venus before winning 10 of the last 12 points to set up a 6-3, 4-6, 10-5 win.
Karatsev, who teamed with Rublev to win the Doha doubles title earlier in the year, crushed numerous clean winners off the return and baseline and also was explosive at net. For his part, Rublev's massive forehand always kept Puetz and Venus on edge.
In Saturday's final the ATP Cup-winning teammates will play seventh seeds John Peers and Filip Polasek, who defeated eighth seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 6-4, 7-6(1).
Cameron Norrie began 2021 at No. 71 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, with a 51-60 career match record. A place among the world’s best eight players at November’s Nitto ATP Finals was a fanciful dream… until it wasn’t.
As he prepares for battle against Grigor Dimitrov in his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Indian Wells Saturday, the 26-year-old Brit is now two wins away from surging into 10th place in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. Should he push on to claim the title, Norrie will find himself just 160 points behind Hubert Hurkacz, who currently occupies the last qualifying spot. [Eighth-placed Rafael Nadal will not compete due to a foot injury.]
Norrie has broken new ground at the BNP Paribas Open this year, downing seeds Roberto Bautista Agut and Diego Schwartzman in addition to wins over Tennys Sandgren and Tommy Paul. The run will see the Los Cabos champion replace Daniel Evans as the new British No. 1 on Monday.
“It's definitely a great bonus to be British No. 1,” Norrie said. “I want to keep pushing. I think I've got a lot of things to improve on, but I think it's one of those things you've got to enjoy.
“It's nice to show some of the hard work from Facu [coach Facundo Lugones] and we’ve been putting in over the last five years after college. It's showing, and it's been a lot of fun. It's one of those things [that is] a bonus, and [I am] really pleased to be playing at the level that I am and enjoying the process of it.”
Norrie will carry a 1-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his meeting with Dimitrov on Saturday, having defeated the Bulgarian in straight sets in the second round in Miami in March.
Dimitrov, who battled back from a set down against Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round and Hurkacz in the quarter-finals, earning his 100th Masters 1000 win in the process, is appearing in his first semi-final at the Masters 1000 level since Paris in 2019.
“It's such an amazing thing,” Dimitrov said when asked about his 100th Masters 1000 victory. “I'm very fortunate to be able to put myself in that position over and over, especially throughout the tough years, injuries and so on. It means a lot to me. I really appreciate it. I'm very, very humbled on it. I'm smiling inside. I think it's a beautiful thing.”
Dimitrov, who rallied back from a set and a double-break down to upset World No. 2 Medvedev in the fourth round to earn his first Top 2 win since 2016, had never been beyond the third round in seven previous appearances in California. The World No. 28 is aiming to win his first title since triumphing at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2017 and is chasing his first final since Rotterdam in 2018.
For the first time in ATP Masters 1000 history (280 events since 1990)...— ATP Tour (@atptour) October 16, 2021
All four semi-finalists are ranked outside of the Top 25 of the @FedEx ATP Rankings.
🇬🇧 No. 26 Cameron Norrie
🇧🇬 No. 28 Grigor Dimitrov
🇬🇪 No. 36 Nikoloz Basilashvili
🇺🇸 No. 39 Taylor Fritz
🤯 #BNPPO21 pic.twitter.com/ypze2MENbI
On facing Norrie, Dimitrov said: “He’s been having great results. It’s not going to be an easy match. That goes without saying. I'm really going to focus on my side of the net and try to build up a plan that I think could be the winning one.”
Taylor Fritz and Nikoloz Basilashvili emerged as unexpected semi-final opponents after both scored upset wins Friday. Fritz clawed back from 0-3 in the third set to defeat World No. 4 Alexander Zverev following Basilashvili's three-set upset of World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Coming into the tournament, the pair had a combined five match wins at Masters 1000 level this season. Fritz leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, with the players splitting honours earlier this year in Doha and Dubai.
World No. 39 Fritz is enjoying a stellar run, having upset Italians Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner before felling Zverev. The 23-year-old, a former junior World No. 1, is 25-18 on the season. This is his fifth semi-final of the season, but he is yet to push on to a final.
Fritz seeks his second career title (Eastbourne 2019) and his first final since Acapulco last year.
In five of his six Masters 1000 appearances this year leading into Indian Wells, Basilashvili had fallen in the first round. He also lost his opener to Lorenzo Sonego at the San Diego Open two weeks ago.
But the 29-year-old is a streaky player, capable of producing big results when they are least expected, with the first three of his five titles coming at the 500 level (Hamburg 2018-19 and Beijing 2018).
Taylor Fritz’s breakthrough run continued Friday at the BNP Paribas Open as he saved two match points, earning his second Top 5 win of his career to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.
The American rallied from a 2-5 down in the decider and saved two match points at 3-5, 30/40 and 4-5, 30/40 to upset World No. 4 Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) after two hours and 22 minutes in Indian Wells.
“I was really down and out but I found a way to put myself into it,” Fritz said in his on-court interview. “I really wanted to make him have to close me out and I was able to get back into the match. Normally you would be so nervous in those situations and in the third set tie-break, but I felt so confident being aggressive, going after my game. It feels really great to play well with the pressure on.”
The 31st seed, who recorded straight-set wins over Nitto ATP Finals hopefuls Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner en route to his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final, played aggressive tennis against Zverev, firing 36 winners to advance.
Fritz now trails Zverev 2-3 in their ATP Head2Head series and will face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last four after the Georgian overcame second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to reach his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final.
“The biggest thing was match point down, I wanted to make him serve it out, so I just fought as hard as I could to hold that game,” Fritz said. “Then I got fortunate in his service game and from there I felt in control and felt really good under the pressure.
“It is amazing. Especially the way that match ended with such high emotions with the crowd. The crowd was amazing and it is a dream come true.”
The Californian resident is making his fifth appearance in Indian Wells, with his previous best result a run to the fourth round in 2018. Fritz’s only other Top 5 win came against then-World No. 5 Dominic Thiem at the Laver Cup in 2019.
The 23-year-old has reached semi-finals in Doha, Cagliari and Los Cabos. Fritz will try to avenge his Doha defeat to Basilashvili when they meet on Saturday.
After breaks were exchanged at the start of the first set, with Zverev double-faulting to drop serve, the German began to take control with his consistent deep groundstrokes. The World No. 4 committed just six unforced errors in the set to move ahead.
Fritz altered his tactics in the second set and started to play aggressively as he blasted 13 winners from all areas of the court, overpowering Zverev to march 4-1 ahead. After Fritz sealed the set on his serve, Zverev regained momentum in the decider as he continued to soak up the 31st seed’s power. The American's level slightly dipped in the third set and after Zverev broke early, he was able to put his foot down and roar into a 5-2 lead.
However, the German's second serve abandoned him when he was trying to serve out the match. Zverev struck two double faults as Fritz broke back. After moving to a tie-break, the American found his best tennis to prevail in a tight match.
“Today was just not really my day, to be honest,” Zverev said. “I was close to winning, but the level of tennis was just not quite there for me. Fritz played a great match. He deserves to be in the semi-finals. Today mentally is not easy for me.
“I have played well. But this one hurts because I knew that after Stefanos lost this morning, I was kind of the favourite to win this tournament, but my tennis wasn't there.”
Zverev was aiming to win his third ATP Masters 1000 title of the season in Indian Wells, having triumphed in Madrid and Cincinnati earlier this year. The German entered the match in strong form after winning 20 of his past 21 matches on hard courts.
Nikoloz Basilashvili sprung a surprise on Friday at the BNP Paribas Open, earning the biggest win of his career with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 upset of World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.
The Georgian was competing in his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final and produced an impressive performance as he caused Tsitsipas problems from the baseline with his powerful groundstrokes, raising his level in the third set to advance after two hours and nine minutes.
“I have played really great matches this tournament,” Basilashvili said. “I was not that happy with how I played today but I was happy with how I managed my stress levels. First time in the quarter-finals and it is a big court and Stefanos is a super tough player. I had to keep my physical levels and energy levels in a really good shape because I knew mentally I would be a little bit tight and stressed.”
With his victory, the World No. 36 has reduced the deficit to 1-2 in his ATP Head2Head series against Tsitsipas. Before this year, Basilashvili had never won a main-draw match in Indian Wells in four previous appearances. The 29-year-old will now face third seed Alexander Zverev or America’s Taylor Fritz for a place in the final.
Basilashvili, who rallied from a set-and-a-break down in his third-round victory against Albert Ramos-Vinolas, has won tour-level titles in Doha and Munich this year. The 29th seed's last Top 5 victory came against then-World No. 5 Alexander Zverev in Hamburg in 2019.
“I have spent a lot of time working hard,” Basilashvili added. “I have been playing really well. For me to overcome stressful moments I am really happy. I also found it here that the conditions don’t suit my game because the balls fly a lot, but this year I am playing well.”
Basilashvili First-Serve Placement
In a lively first set, Basilashvili made a fast start as he broke in the opening game, causing Tsitsipas problems with his powerful groundstrokes. The Georgian controlled the tempo of the match, notching 14 winners in the first set as Tsitsipas struggled to find his rhythm from the baseline.
However, the Greek began to gain momentum in the second set as he dominated the longer rallies as he soaked up Basilashvili’s power. The 23-year-old did not face a break point on his serve as he levelled.
After breaks were exchanged in the third set, Basilashvili produced a strong return game and was gifted the lead when Tsitsipas double faulted on break to move 4-3 ahead. From there, the Georgian kept his composure, fending off pressure from Tsitsipas to hold serve twice to advance.
Tsitsipas was aiming to reach his third consecutive Masters 1000 semi-final in North America, having enjoyed a run to the last four in Toronto and Cincinnati. The Monte-Carlo champion has earned a tour-leading 54 victories this season.
Spaniard Rafael Nadal has been honoured at a ceremony in Mallorca for the help he provided Sant Llorenc des Cardassar in October 2018 after torrential rain and flashing flooding devastated the town.
The storms resulted in the death of 13 people and led to more than 200 people fleeing, with hundreds of homes and businesses swamped with dirty water that reached levels of two meters.
Nadal spent hours helping volunteers to clean up the area and opened up rooms at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar for those who needed refuge. The 35-year-old also provided a donation of one million euros through his foundation.
Now, the 20-time major champion has been given the title ‘adopted son’ by the city council of Sant Llorenc des Cardassar in recognition of his support.
Nadal has not competed since he reached the third round in Washington in August, with his season curtailed due to a foot injury. The World No. 6 underwent treatment on the injury in September.When speaking at the ceremony, Nadal stated he was unsure of when he will return to match action but is working hard and following a specific daily plan with clear goals.
Cameron Norrie is tennis’ global citizen. The Briton was born in South Africa, lived in New Zealand until age 16, then moved to London. The lefty attended college at Texas Christian University in the United States and now, the 26-year-old has his sights set on a new destination: Turin, where the Nitto ATP Finals will be played from 14-21 November.
“I think even this late in the year, there are only three or four tournaments to go after this, and to even be in the conversation for Turin is massive for me,” Norrie told ATPTour.com. “If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that this late in the year that I’d be in the conversation, I would have taken that.”
Norrie has at least given himself an opportunity to enter the conversation by the end of the BNP Paribas Open, where on Thursday he reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final. The World No. 26 had never advanced to a quarter-final at this level before arriving in Indian Wells.
By making the last four in the California desert, Norrie has 2,190 points in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, putting him in 12th place, 765 points behind Hubert Hurkacz, who currently holds the last qualifying spot. But if Norrie completes his dream run and triumphs in Indian Wells, he will only be 160 points behind Hurkacz in the Race.
“It’s incredible,” Norrie said. “Hopefully I keep pushing and hopefully I still have a chance.”
Norrie has already reached a milestone in Indian Wells. With his quarter-final victory, he is guaranteed to become the No. 1 Briton when the next FedEx ATP Rankings are released Monday, passing Daniel Evans.
“It was never really a goal of mine, but it's definitely a great bonus to be British No. 1,” Norrie said during his press conference on Thursday. “I want to keep pushing. I think I've got a lot of things to improve on, but I think it's one of those things you've got to enjoy.”
Norrie won his first ATP Tour title this year in Los Cabos. Photo Credit: Abierto Los Cabos
Perhaps what was most impressive was how Norrie handled what he called “definitely [the] biggest match of my career” in the quarter-finals against Diego Schwartzman. The 21st seed not only won, but did so emphatically, 6-0, 6-2, against the gritty 11th seed.
“Once the match began, I was feeling very relaxed, and I was very in the present. I wasn't really thinking too much and just [went] out and [played] like another match,” Norrie told the media. “Definitely more relaxed than all my other matches I have played this week, so I was very happy with how I handled everything.”
It was a workmanlike performance from Norrie, who gave his opponent no openings to turn around the match. The Briton simply maintained his physical game and forced Schwartzman to come up with something special.
It was the 45th win of Norrie’s season, and many of those victories have come from outworking his opponent. The lefty does not have Rafael Nadal’s forehand, Novak Djokovic’s backhand or John Isner’s serve. But he has other weapons: his physicality and toughness, according to former British No. 1 Mark Petchey.
“We’re seduced by visuals and we’re less romantic about things that we can’t see, and I think that’s the thing with Cam. There are a lot of good things that he does and a lot of things that as a tennis player on the other end of the court you find very difficult to get rhythm against,” Petchey said. “But ultimately, his point-in, point-out is probably as good as Rafa’s. His lung capacity is certainly as good as Rafa’s. All of that adds up to being an incredibly efficient and effective player and I think that not everybody could match his work rate.
“When you go out there, if you are not willing to go there you probably feel like you’re going to come off second best.”
Argentine Facundo Lugones, Norrie’s coach and former college teammate, said that his charge gained his endurance from going on long runs with his mom at a young age. Now, they focus on his strength and movement patterns.
“We never really work on endurance or outlasting someone, because he has that. I think it’s a good plus when you don’t need to worry about that,” Lugones told ATPTour.com in August. “You just have to worry about the quality and explosiveness on the physical side.”
Norrie entered the season at No. 71 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, and he had reached just one ATP Tour final. In 2021, the lefty has made five tour-level championship matches. According to Petchey, there has not been a drastic change in the Briton’s game, but little things such as more aggressive court positioning, taking the ball earlier and an improved ball toss.
“I think there have been a couple of things that are not insignificant, [but] they weren’t probably huge in people’s minds,” Petchey said. “They have turned out to be very significant [for Cam].”
Now Norrie has positioned himself as one of the best players in the world this year. And although he still has plenty of work to do in Indian Wells — starting with a semi-final clash against Grigor Dimitrov — to really insert himself into Turin contention, putting in the work has proven his specialty.
“It’s awesome for Cam. He’s one of the most authentic players out there in terms of his work rate. Everybody knows that, and he’s just kept working to get better and better,” Petchey said. “Obviously this year has been a big catalyst of all that work converging to give himself a shot to go to Turin. I hope he makes it. I’ve hoped since the US Open that he can get there.
“Obviously there are going to be a lot of players who are going to try to stop him, but I think he deserves it.”
Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev are on a roll in the desert, through to their maiden ATP Masters 1000 doubles semi-final after taking down Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov in straight sets on Thursday night.
The Russians, in only their third tournament together, proved too strong for the Indian-Canadian duo 6-4, 6-4. Champions already this year in Doha, they are now 7-1 as a partnership and will face the unseeded Tim Puetz and Michael Venus for a place in their second tour-level final this season.
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Both pairs had been rock solid on serve to 4-all in the opening set before the first cracks appeared as Shapovalov was broken on a third break point. Karatsev duly capitalised and served it out at the 30-minute mark as the Russians finished the first set with a perfect 18/18 on first-serve points.
Consolidation proved a struggle in the second set as the pairs traded five breaks in seven games before Karatsev raised his level to hold for 5-3. While they missed four match points on Shapovalov’s serve, the Russians advanced a game later at the 67-minute mark.
In their first event together since 2016, eighth seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo narrowly advanced against unseeded Italians Fabio Fognini and Lorenzo Sonego 3-6, 6-4, 10-8. The Croatian-Brazilian duo won Roland Garros together in 2015 and Melo relished the chance to reunite in Indian Wells.
“Today was as high level as possible in doubles. I think the people enjoyed a lot, even though I got hit twice,” Melo said. “For me it was special because Ivan and I used to play together a long time and now we started to play again. I’m just very happy to play the level I was playing today.”
They won 78 per cent of first-serve points and 67 on second serves to book a semi-final clash against seventh seeds John Peers and Filip Polasek. It is their first semi-final together since they won in Cincinnati in 2016.
After overcoming fourth-round foes in contrasting fashion, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev contest maiden BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals on Friday.
Like their respective challengers, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Taylor Fritz, they have not advanced this far at Indian Wells before. For second seed Tsitsipas it was a rough road just to reach this stage.
The Greek dug deep from a set down in his past two matches – against 25th seed Fabio Fognini in the third round, before he finished strongly against 22nd seed Alex de Minaur 6-7(3), 7-6(3), 6-2 in a two-hour, 46-minute fourth-round battle.
Tsitsipas will carry a 2-0 ATP Head2Head record into his clash with 29th seed Basilashvili, a straight-sets winner over Russian Karen Khachanov. The Georgian – through to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final – took a set off Tsitsipas in both prior encounters on hard courts in 2019, in Beijing and at the Australian Open.
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“I know there are a lot of seeds, which play great tennis. My biggest priority is to play my best against any player regardless of the ranking or status,” Tsitsipas said. “This week has been a difficult journey with lots of battles, two three-setters so far, so this is something I’m going to take as a learning experience and use it for something better in the tournament.”
Unlike Tsitsipas, third seed Zverev’s toughest tests came earlier on in the tournament. He dropped a set to #NextGenATP American Jenson Brooksby before he powered home in three, then denied former finalist Andy Murray in two close sets.
Following victory over Murray, the German flipped the script on another 0-3 ATP Head2Head when he easily landed his first win against 14th seed Gael Monfils. He has now won 20 of his past 21 matches on hard courts, including the Tokyo Olympics gold medal and the title in Cincinnati.
“I always love [Indian Wells] but I’ve just never played well here,” Zverev said. “But I did well in Cincinnati as well where I’d never won a match before this year and then I won the tournament, so hopefully this can be a similar week for me. I’m looking forward to it. I’m feeling well, I’m playing pretty okay tennis and hopefully it can continue this week.”
Zverev holds a 3-1 ATP Head2Head record against 31st seed Fritz. But the pair stood toe-to-toe in their three most recent battles, including twice on grass at Wimbledon.
The German recovered from two sets to one down in the second round at the All England Club three years ago before Fritz gained revenge in Basel in 2019. Zverev again prevailed in a tight contest at Wimbledon, in four sets, in the third round this year.
Fritz has not dropped a set this week in Indian Wells, including victories over Nitto ATP Finals hopefuls, fifth seed Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner. Like Basilashvili, he is through to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.
Have no fear, Grigor is here!
Grigor Dimitrov earned his biggest win of 2021 on Thursday when he beat Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(2) to reach the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open. But that was not the Bulgarian’s only victory of the day on court.
At 5-4 in the second set, Hurkacz hit a serve that stuck underneath the court’s back panel, and 15-year-old ballgirl Hannah Maarhuis was unable to retrieve it. But Dimitrov paused play to help the teen, who was working one of his matches for the first time. The Stadium 1 crowd roared in approval of the 30-year-old’s good deed as he pulled out the ball from underneath the panel.
“It was cool! I was embarrassed,” Maarhuis said, cracking a laugh. “It was stuck under the thing. He just said, ‘I can get it'!”
Dimitrov went on to win the second set and later the match, which marked his 100th ATP Masters 1000 win. He is into his first semi-final at this level since the 2019 Rolex Paris Masters.
The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion will next play in-form Briton Cameron Norrie for a spot in the championship match in Indian Wells. One thing is certain: the ballkids for that match will know Grigor will be there to lend a helping hand if necessary!