Final Preview: Norrie & Basilashvili Seek Maiden Masters 1000 Title
The Brit started the year at No. 71 in the FedEx ATP Rankings but has earned a career-best 46 tour-level wins in 2021. Norrie’s run to his sixth ATP Tour final of the season in Indian Wells will propel him into the Top 20 for the first time and see him replace Daniel Evans as the new British No. 1 on Monday.
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If this was not enough for Norrie to get excited about, a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November, is now firmly in view for the 26-year-old.
If Norrie can overcome Basilashvili and capture his second tour-level title of the season, having won his maiden trophy at this level in Los Cabos, he will soar to 10th place in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. It will see the Brit just 160 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz, who currently occupies the last qualifying spot, with Rafael Nadal, currently eighth, not competing due to a foot injury.
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Before this year, the Londoner had never won a main draw match in two previous appearances in Indian Wells. Following his semi-final victory over Grigor Dimitrov, Norrie became only the fourth Brit to reach the final in California.
“I think it's very special, especially looking at the other names, Greg, Tim and Andy, all British tennis icons and legends. To be added to that list is extremely special for me,” Norrie said. “The last two days have been the biggest matches of my career, so I'm going to go out there and it's going to be my biggest match of my career again.
“There's a lot of work to be done. I'm looking forward to the occasion. Feeling all the nerves and all the pressure, it's definitely great to experience that.”
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Norrie is aiming to become the first Brit to win the Masters 1000 hard-court event and will carry a 1-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his meeting with Basilashvili, having defeated the World No. 36 in Rotterdam in March.
Basilashvili will also be competing for the biggest title of his career on Sunday after he moved past American Taylor Fritz in straight sets to advance to his maiden Masters 1000 final and become the first Georgian to reach the championship match at this level.
The 29-year-old had suffered five first-round defeats from six appearances at Masters 1000 level this year, but has enjoyed a dream run in the desert. Basilashvili upset World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals and will be aiming to clinch his third tour-level crown of the season against Norrie after triumphing in Doha and Munich.
On facing Norrie, Basilashvili said: “[He is a] really interesting player. He's playing very well at this tournament. He had previous really good weeks. I will study him today and come up with a plan.
“But overall, he's not so nice to play against from the baseline. He's been playing really, really smart and very good tennis. I'm looking forward. If I can play my game and be relaxed, I think I can play well.”
Did You Know?
Norrie or Basilashvili will become the sixth different player to win a Masters 1000 title this season, joining Hubert Hurkacz, Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev (twice), Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev.