© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Cameron Norrie will surge to 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin with a title in Indian Wells.

Saturday Preview: Norrie's Path To Turin Runs Through California

Cameron Norrie began 2021 at No. 71 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, with a 51-60 career match record. A place among the world’s best eight players at November’s Nitto ATP Finals was a fanciful dream… until it wasn’t.

As he prepares for battle against Grigor Dimitrov in his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Indian Wells Saturday, the 26-year-old Brit is now two wins away from surging into 10th place in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. Should he push on to claim the title, Norrie will find himself just 160 points behind Hubert Hurkacz, who currently occupies the last qualifying spot. [Eighth-placed Rafael Nadal will not compete due to a foot injury.]

You May Also Like: Race vs. Rankings: Do You Know The Difference?

Norrie has broken new ground at the BNP Paribas Open this year, downing seeds Roberto Bautista Agut and Diego Schwartzman in addition to wins over Tennys Sandgren and Tommy Paul. The run will see the Los Cabos champion replace Daniel Evans as the new British No. 1 on Monday.

“It's definitely a great bonus to be British No. 1,” Norrie said. “I want to keep pushing. I think I've got a lot of things to improve on, but I think it's one of those things you've got to enjoy.

“It's nice to show some of the hard work from Facu [coach Facundo Lugones] and we’ve been putting in over the last five years after college. It's showing, and it's been a lot of fun. It's one of those things [that is] a bonus, and [I am] really pleased to be playing at the level that I am and enjoying the process of it.”

FOLLOW THIS WEEK'S ACTION

Norrie will carry a 1-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his meeting with Dimitrov on Saturday, having defeated the Bulgarian in straight sets in the second round in Miami in March.

Dimitrov, who battled back from a set down against Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round and Hurkacz in the quarter-finals, earning his 100th Masters 1000 win in the process, is appearing in his first semi-final at the Masters 1000 level since Paris in 2019.

“It's such an amazing thing,” Dimitrov said when asked about his 100th Masters 1000 victory. “I'm very fortunate to be able to put myself in that position over and over, especially throughout the tough years, injuries and so on. It means a lot to me. I really appreciate it. I'm very, very humbled on it. I'm smiling inside. I think it's a beautiful thing.”

Dimitrov, who rallied back from a set and a double-break down to upset World No. 2 Medvedev in the fourth round to earn his first Top 2 win since 2016, had never been beyond the third round in seven previous appearances in California. The World No. 28 is aiming to win his first title since triumphing at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2017 and is chasing his first final since Rotterdam in 2018.

On facing Norrie, Dimitrov said: “He’s been having great results. It’s not going to be an easy match. That goes without saying. I'm really going to focus on my side of the net and try to build up a plan that I think could be the winning one.”

Taylor Fritz and Nikoloz Basilashvili emerged as unexpected semi-final opponents after both scored upset wins Friday. Fritz clawed back from 0-3 in the third set to defeat World No. 4 Alexander Zverev following Basilashvili's three-set upset of World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Coming into the tournament, the pair had a combined five match wins at Masters 1000 level this season. Fritz leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, with the players splitting honours earlier this year in Doha and Dubai.

World No. 39 Fritz is enjoying a stellar run, having upset Italians Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner before felling Zverev. The 23-year-old, a former junior World No. 1, is 25-18 on the season. This is his fifth semi-final of the season, but he is yet to push on to a final.

Fritz seeks his second career title (Eastbourne 2019) and his first final since Acapulco last year.

In five of his six Masters 1000 appearances this year leading into Indian Wells, Basilashvili had fallen in the first round. He also lost his opener to Lorenzo Sonego at the San Diego Open two weeks ago.

But the 29-year-old is a streaky player, capable of producing big results when they are least expected, with the first three of his five titles coming at the 500 level (Hamburg 2018-19 and Beijing 2018).