Thursday, October 14, 2021

Ex-NorCal star cruises into first Masters 1000 semifinal

Cameron Norrie was 0-2 in the main draw in Indian Wells
before this year. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   No. 21 seed Cameron Norrie reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal today, routing No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman 6-0, 6-2 in 73 minutes in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.
   Masters 1000 tournaments are the highest level besides the Grand Slams.
   All three of Norrie's previous matches against Schwartzman had gone the distance, including a first-round victory in last year's U.S. Open.
   Norrie, a 26-year-old left-hander, was born in South Africa, grew up in New Zealand, starred at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, and represents Great Britain. He improved to 3-1 against the 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter), 141-pound (64-kilogram)  Schwartzman, 29, of Argentina.
   "Everything went my way today," Norrie, who won back-to-back Northern California Challengers in Tiburon and Stockton in 2017, said in an on-court interview. "Right from the beginning, I was timing the ball well. I thought I was in for a long match because the previous times we have played have been so long and so physical, so I was ready for that. I hit a lot of lines in the first set and stayed tough in the second and served well when I needed to. I am so happy to be through; it is such a big win for me."
   Norrie, who was 0-2 in the main draw in Indian Wells before this year, is scheduled to face No. 23 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria on Saturday. Dimitrov, who ousted top-seeded Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday, edged No. 8 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
   Norrie is projected to improve at least six notches to a career-high No. 20 on Monday. He will pocket a minimum of $335,000 (plus $8,435 as a first-round loser in doubles).
   On the women's side, No. 12 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia defeated No. 18 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 7-5, 6-3 to reach her first WTA 1000 semifinal. 
   Jabeur, who will become the first Arab (male or female) to crack the top 10 on Monday, is slated to meet No. 21 seed Paula Badosa of Spain after Friday's 6 p.m. semifinal between No. 24 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and No. 27 seed and two-time Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka (Tennis Channel).
   Badosa, a quarterfinalist in this year's French Open and Tokyo Olympics, eliminated No. 10 seed Angelique Kerber, the 2019 BNP runner-up to Bianca Andreescu, 6-4, 7-5. Badosa beat another Grand Slam champion, No. 3 seed Barbora Krejcikova, in the round of 16.
   In the women's doubles semifinals, No. 2 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei and Elise Mertens of Belgium overwhelmed No. 3 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan 6-2, 6-0 in 54 minutes.
   Hsieh won the Indian Wells doubles title in 2014 with Peng Shuai of China and in 2018 with Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. Mertens took the last (2019) crown with Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka, who missed this year's tournament because of COVID. 
   Hsieh and Mertens are set to meet unseeded Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Elena Rybakina, a Moscow native who plays for Kazakhstan, on Saturday.
   USTA Pro Circuit — No. 3 seed Katie Volynets, 19, of Walnut Creek, Calif., routed Fernanda Contreras Gomez of Mexico 6-3, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals of the $25,000 Florence (S.C.) Open on hardcourts.

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