'Biggest title means so much' - Cameron Norrie fights back to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili and lift the Indian Wells title
Cameron Norrie's excellent 2021 season took another upward turn as he came from behind to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6 6-4 6-1 to win his first Masters 1000 title. The 26-year-old is now very much in the hunt to reach the ATP Tour finals in Turin. "I can’t really believe it. If you told me I was going to win it before the tournament started I wouldn’t have believed you."
Cameron Norrie comes from a set down to claim biggest career title at Indian Wells
Speaking prior to lifting the trophy, Norrie said: "It means so much to me. This is my biggest title. I’m so happy, I can’t even describe it right now. It was a strange match today, but massive for me and my team.
I can’t really believe it. If you told me I was going to win it before the tournament started I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s so amazing and I can’t put it into words. I’m still taking all of the emotions from the match in, I’m so happy. "
It was Norrie, who was appearing in his sixth Tour final of the campaign, who made the more assured start as his rock-solid hitting from the baseline lured some rash errors from the Georgian to earn him an early break in Game 3.
However, Basilashvili responded with the sort of red-hot tennis that has seen him rip up the form book in the desert, including an excellent win over number three seed Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the final. The world number 36 has made five first round exits in Masters 1000 tournaments this season but has been magnificent in California and tore through the Norrie game-plan to claim five games in row and take the opener in 30 minutes.
Norrie’s hopes appeared to be fading fast as he was broken again when he angled a volley wide early in Set 2, but a real lull from his opponent saw him make a trio of surprising errors off the forehand to gift-wrap a break back at 2-2.
It sparked a shift in momentum as Basilashvili appeared to struggle more with an increase in wind velocity and Norrie made the vital breakthrough at the business end of the set. The Brit produced two sensational points with a low volley and pass up the line on the run as he broke to love in Game 10 to force the decider.
Norrie’s consistency and point-by-point focus began to eat away at his opponent and a wild backhand into the tramlines earned the No.21 seed a break to lead 2-0.
Basilashvili then had triple break point to immediately get back into it but Norrie dug extra deep to wriggle out of danger and somehow consolidate from deuce.
It proved hugely significant as Norrie broke again for 5-1 before serving it out with aplomb to claim his 47th tour win and second tour-level title of the season to add to the maiden one he lifted in Los Cabos.
"What an incredible week" - Norrie becomes first British man to win at Indian Wells
Former British tennis stars Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski were quick to salute Norrie’s achievement and feel he can go on to realise his ambitions at the end of the year.
“If you look at the points he’s been accumulating, top 10 is realistic,” said Henman.
“In the race he’s knocking on the door of the top 10, especially if he can play well at a couple of indoor tournaments. It emphasises the importance of Paris (Masters) at the end of the year with 1000 points up for grabs. It’s amazing that Cam could be a top 10 player at some stage.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement. It’s just reward for all the hard work. Turin is now a realistic opportunity. He’s a fantastic role model. He puts in the work and maximises his potential."
Rusedski added: "What an incredible performance. He was down and out for a set and half but found a way to turn it around. It’s great to finally see a British player win this title in Indian Wells. What a moment. I couldn’t be more thrilled for him, he’s such a pro.
"It was the 5-4 game in the second set when everything turned around. He played two of the best points and went from strength to strength. In the final set Basilashvili made all of the unforced errors. Cam refused to miss and definitely deserves this title.
"It’s incredible to think what just happened. We were all wondering what would happen when Andy Murray finished, but we could have a top 10 player by the end of the season and then you have (Emma) Raducanu winning the US Open. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
Cameron Norrie of Great Britain hits a forehand return to Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in their men's final match at the Indian Wells tennis tournament