Sunday, October 17, 2021 - Cameron Norrie reacts after defeating Nikoloz Basilashvili in the men's final match at Stadium 1 on day 14 of the 2021 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, CA. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
Cameron Norrie made history on Sunday night at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, defeating Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, in the men’s singles final to become the first British player to win a title of any kind at the BNP Paribas Open.
Countrymen Andy Murray (2009), Tim Henman (2002, 2004) and Greg Rusedski (1998) all reached finals in the Southern California desert before him, but it took the 26-year-old former TCU standout to go the distance. Both players were vying for their first ATP Masters 1000 title.
“It means so much, I can’t even describe it,” said Norrie, who has now appeared in six finals in 2021, a number equaled only by World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. “It’s absolutely massive for me and my team. I can’t really believe it. If you would have told me I would have won before the tournament started, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s amazing. I’m still taking in all the emotions.”
Norrie, 26, broke for an early 3-1 advantage in the opener. However, the lefthander’s lead was short-lived. Basilashvili would respond by reeling off five straight games to seal the set in just 29 minutes.
To Norrie’s credit, he held his ground in the second set, breaking Basilashvili at love in the 10th game to force a decider.
With a handful of British flags and Union Jack-emblazoned jackets and umbrellas scattered throughout Stadium 1, Norrie distanced himself in the third set, forcing a backhand error with his opponent serving at 0-1, 30-40. He escaped a triple-break-point jam for 3-0.
“It was quite windy,” said Norrie, who also won their only previous encounter earlier this year in the first round in Rotterdam, 6-0, 6-3. “He hit so many winners. It was tough for me to get some confidence on my rally balls. The rallies were really short. He was just blasting winners. When I made a couple of big shots in 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’ve been doing all tournament. That worked in my favor.”
Norrie, who will leapfrog countryman Daniel Evans as the British No. 1 when the new rankings are published on Monday, has now won a personal-best 47 matches on the year, and will rise to No. 16 in the rankings.
“I’ve really been enjoying my tennis, being out on the court competing in big moments,” said Norrie, who’s now 2-4 in finals in 2021. “I’m just really pleased with how I handled the occasion. I’m doing that a lot better this year. I’ve lost a lot of finals, so it’s nice to get the big one today.”
The 29th-seeded Basilashvili, the first player from the country of Georgia to advance to an ATP Masters 1000 final, had played the role of spoiler all week long, upending No. 24 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia and No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece en route to the title match.
Norrie became the first player ranked outside the Top 25 to win the Indian Wells title since No. 26 Ivan Ljubicic in 2010.