AFP/ Indian Wells, United States
Cameron Norrie’s breakthrough season reached a high point in the California desert on Sunday with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili to become the first Briton to win the ATP Indian Wells title.
Norrie rallied from a set down to earn his career best 47th win of the season and is the first player from Great Britain to lift the trophy, achieving what former finalists Andy Murray, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski failed to do.
This is Norrie’s second title in his sixth ATP final of the season after winning his maiden crown earlier this year in Los Cabos.
The victory will also propel him into the top 20 in the world for the first time in his career, and move him past Daniel Evans to become the new British No. 1.
“I am so happy, this is my biggest title,” said Norrie, who clinched the crown when Basilashvili belted a forehand long on the first match point.
Norrie hit just one ace had two double faults but won 77% of his first serve points and played better in the crucial moments than Basilashvili. “It has been an incredible week. I was expecting it to be a longer match and he made a couple of errors at the end,” said Norrie.
Murray was the most recent British finalist in 2009 when he lost to Spaniard Rafael Nadal. Henman made the final twice, in 2002 and 2004 when he lost in straight sets to Roger Federer 6-3, 6-3. Canadian-born Brit Rusedski was runner-up in 1998.
Norrie was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, grew up in New Zealand before becoming the top collegiate player in the United States at Texas Christian University. He has represented Great Britain for the past eight years.
The 29-year-old Basilashvili was going for his third title of the season. He has a reputation of being a streaky player capable of looking unbeatable one day and vulnerable the next. Unfortunately, the Georgian did not bring his A game against Norrie unlike the quarter-finals where he upset second seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece. Basilashvili said he had some health issues Sunday which sapped his energy in the final set, but declined to go into detail. “I was very tight. I had some health problems in the third set. I tried to go out and take a breath but could not recover. I didn’t have anything left,” said Basilashvili, who left the court after the fifth game of the third set to go to the bathroom and try and regroup.
Basilashvili, the son of a former dancer with the Georgian National Ballet, blasted two aces and won just 56% of his first serves and 59% of his second serves in the one hour, 49 minute match.
Basilashvili won the last five games of the first set to take it 6-3. Norrie got the early break and took a 3-1 lead but the Georgian held serve in the fifth game to begin his hot streak.
Norrie fought back in a tight second set that saw both players record service breaks early. Norrie got the upper hand with another service break in the 10th game to go on and level the sets at one each. Norrie got another early break in the second game of the third set, but Basilashvili won a six-minute long fourth game to cut the deficit to 3-1.
That was the last hurrah for Basilashvili, who then lost the final three games of the match, in part due to the sloppy forehands and an apparent lack of focus.
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