Saturday, October 16, 2021

Ex-NorCal star Norrie advances to BNP final; Fritz falls

No. 21 seed Cameron Norrie is scheduled to meet No. 29 seed
Nikoloz Basilashvili in the final of the BNP Paribas Open in
Indian Wells on Sunday. 2016 photo by Paul Bauman
   Cameron Norrie and Taylor Fritz, each of whom won back-to-back Northern California Challengers early in their professional careers, played today in the semifinals of the prestigious BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   The 21st-seeded Norrie, a 26-year-old left-hander from Great Britain, dispatched 23rd-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-4. Then 29th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia beat the 31st-seeded Fritz, a 23-year-old resident of Rancho Palos Verdes in the Los Angeles area, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Basilashvili saved three set points in the first set and all seven break points he faced, including two in the final game.
   It's the first time all semifinalists in an ATP Masters 1000 tournament, the highest level besides the Grand Slams, have been ranked outside the top 25. Of course, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem — who have combined to win 14 of the last 16 Indian Wells singles titles — did not play.
   Dimitrov, ranked 28th after reaching a career-high No. 3 in 2017, was coming off three-set victories over top-seeded Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday and eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz on Thursday. Norrie, meanwhile, breezed past 11th-seeded Diego Schwartzman 6-0, 6-2 in 73 minutes in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
   Norrie — who was born in South Africa, grew up in New Zealand, starred at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, and lives in London — called the Dimitrov clash "the biggest match of my career, following on from (Thursday), which was the biggest match. 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 won the Tiburon and Stockton Challengers in 2017. Fritz took the Sacramento and Fairfield crowns at 17 in 2015.
   Norrie and Basilashvili, 29, are scheduled to meet Sunday after the 1 p.m. women's final between No. 21 seed Paula Badosa of Spain and No. 27 seed Victoria Azarenka, the 2012 and 2016 champion. Tennis Channel will televise both matches.
   As a qualifier in Rotterdam in March, Norrie routed Basilashvili 6-0, 6-3 on an indoor hardcourt in the first round in their only previous encounter. Azarenka, a 32-year-old mother, and Badosa, a 23-year-old New York native, are set to meet for the first time.    

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