Tennis: Britain's Norrie charges into ATP Indian Wells final, will play Georgian Basilashvili

Cameron Norrie hits a backhand return to Grigor Dimitrov in their semi-final match at the Indian Wells tennis tournament on Oct 16, 2021.
Cameron Norrie hits a backhand return to Grigor Dimitrov in their semi-final match at the Indian Wells tennis tournament on Oct 16, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

INDIAN WELLS, UNITED STATES (AFP) - Cameron Norrie dominated Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4 at the ATP Indian Wells Masters to book his spot in Sunday's (Oct 17) championship match and become the first British finalist since 2009.

He overpowered Dimitrov with a strong serve, blasting four aces and hitting a number of precision forehands and backhands on the main stadium court in Southern California.

“I am so happy,” said Norrie. “Unfortunately he didn’t bring his best today.

“I was very solid. I went a lot to his backhand he was getting frustrated with that. I managed to serve well and in the big moments I executed when I needed to.”

The Briton is going up against another surprise finalist in the 29th seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili, who defeated American Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to post one of the biggest wins of his career.

The Georgian is gunning for his third ATP title of the season after earlier triumphs in Doha and Munich.

Several Britons have reached the final in the California desert without success, including Andy Murray, who lost to Rafael Nadal in 2009.

Tim Henman lost two finals in 2002 and 2004, and Canadian-born Briton Greg Rusedski was runner-up in 1998.

Norrie was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and grew up in New Zealand before becoming the No. 1 college player in America while attending university in Texas. He has represented Britain since 2013.

“I’m looking forward to the match tomorrow and really looking forward to going out and enjoying it again,” he said.

Norrie is seeking his second career title after winning earlier this year in Los Cabos.

He broke through in Los Cabos following a string of runner-up heartbreaks, including earlier this year in Estoril, Lyon and London.

Kept focus

Basilashvili clinched the win over crowd favourite Fritz on the fourth match point, hammering a forehand winner that froze the American in his tracks.

“It is an unbelievable feeling,” said the 29-year-old Basilashvili, whose father is a national ballet dancer. “I am super happy. I was nervous and stressed. I got very tight, but I just tried to focus on the game.

“When you focus, the stress goes away. I know I can play good tennis I just have to not get too tight.”