Norrie Charges Into First Masters 1000 Final
The 26-year-old Londoner broke Dimitrov at the beginning of both sets to underpin his 6-2, 6-4 win at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
"It was the biggest match of my career, following on from yesterday, which was the biggest match," Norrie said. "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 began the tournament 14th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin but displaced Felix Auger-Aliassime in 11th by reaching the final. Should he win his first Masters 1000 title Sunday - against either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Taylor Fritz - he will move past Jannik Sinner in 10th position and to within 160 points of ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz, who currently sits in the last qualifying position. [Rafael Nadal, eighth in the Race, will not compete in Turin due to a foot injury.]
Most Finals In 2021
The defining battle of the match centred around Dimitrov's backhand. The Bulgarian used his slice in earlier victories against Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz to great effect, but it was a different ballgame against the left-handed Norrie.
With his cross-court slice feeding directly into Norrie's forehand, Dimitrov was forced to hit much closer to the baseline and to hit a greater percentage of topspin backhands, both riskier prospects that in part led to an elevated error count.
Norrie, who toed the baseline in an attempt to dictate play, notched his 46th match win of the year and is now within reach of his second title of the season to back up his triumph in Los Cabos.
"I've been playing a lot of big matches this year, which has helped. I feel like I am used to the big moments and the big matches," Norrie said. "I'm feeling more and more comfortable and I feel like I am playing on my terms in key moments."
Coming into the match there was a question mark over the fitness of Dimitrov, who looked physically spent after his draining fourth-round win over Medvedev, when he rallied from a set and a double break down to upset the US Open champion. He then survived a third-set tie-break against eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals, which extended his time on court during the tournament to seven hours and 39 minutes. The 30-year-old has also suffered from allergies during the tournament.
In contrast, Norrie is known as one of the fittest players on Tour and had plenty left in the tank after enjoying a quick 6-0, 6-2 win over Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals.
Norrie began the year No. 71 in the FedEx ATP Rankings but is now guaranteed to break into the Top 20 and become Briton’s No. 1 player for the first time in his career.