Cameron Norrie booked a spot in his first ever Masters 1000 final as he bolstered his bid to make the ATP Tour finals in Turin with an impressive win over Grigor Dimitrov.
The 26-year-old, whose run at Indian Wells will see him become the British number one on Monday, edged out the Bulgarian 6-2 6-4 in just one hour and 27 minutes.
It means Norrie is now 11th in the ATP race to Turin and could move to within 125 points of Hubert Hurkacz, who currently holds the last qualifying berth, if he can beat either Taylor Fritz or Nikoloz Basilashvili in Sunday’s final.
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Speaking in his post-match interview on court, Norrie said:
“The match against Diego (Schwartzman) gave me a lot of confidence, so I felt really good and really comfortable coming out today. I was really physical and got a lot of balls into the court and dictated with my forehand into the backhand side.
“I was penning him (Dimitrov) there and staying patient to use the forehand up the line. He made it difficult in the second set, slicing a lot and making it tough for me and taking my legs away a bit too, but I managed to serve well in those games and he got frustrated a little bit. I think I had a really good game-plan today.
I’ve become more and more confident at Indian Wells and it’s the biggest win of my career for sure."
Asked if the ATP Race was on his mind ahead of the semi final, he added: “I was just thinking about this match. I'm enjoying my tennis right now. Yes, that’s on the cards (the ATP World Tour finals) which is really special and it’s just really cool to be in the conversation this late in the year for Turin. Hopefully I'll be the same level tomorrow and can rest up and enjoy tonight's win."
Norrie made a brilliant start as a crisp forehand up the line paved the way for him to break Dimitrov in the very first game of the contest.
It set the tone for the remainder of the opening set as the Brit’s relentless focus and awkward style proved too hot to handle for the world number 28. Norrie broke Dimitrov three times as the Bulgarian’s slew of unforced errors and sluggish openings to his service games proved his undoing, allowing Norrie to serve out to love in just 32 minutes.
Dimitrov, the 2017 ATP World Tour finals winner, attempted to reset as Set 2 commenced but could not escape another testing examination of his serve, eventually succumbing on a fourth break point to allow Norrie to continue his charge.
The Brit’s tactic of targeting his opponent’s one-handed backhand with his high-bouncing, heavy topspin forehand was the key to his success as he swept aside a break back point to maintain his lead at 3-1.
Dimitrov, who had already hit back from a set down against both Daniil Medvedev and Hurkacz earlier this week, improved as the match wore on and pressed hard to secure the break back, but Norrie refused to buckle.
The No.21 seed kept coming up with clutch tennis in tense moments and ensured he will break into the world’s top 20 next week by serving out the match to love.
Former British number one, Greg Rusedski was hugely impressed with Norrie's success and is now tipping him to lift the trophy.
He said: "I didn’t expect it to be that easy. I thought Grigor would throw the kitchen sink at him but he had the perfect start with the early break. He went from strength to strength. Grigor didn’t look like he could match him from a physical point of view or a mental one.
"Every time there was a big moment Cam was sure he was going to get the job done. I’m actually going to go out on a limb; Norrie to win the title after this performance.”
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