Cameron Norrie become the first British player to win tennis’s ‘fifth slam’ at Indian Wells, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili on Sunday night in three sets.
Norrie’s triumph continues something of a boom for British tennis following Emma Raducanu’s historic US Open success, with Joe Salisbury also adding another doubles title in New York. There was also a calendar grand slam for the wheelchair doubles duo Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid.
Afterwards, Norrie admitted:“If you had told me I would have won before the tournament started, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Norrie takes home the winner’s cheque of $1.2m, which equates to £880,000. Here, Simon Briggs analyses how Norrie got the better of Basilashvili and what lies ahead for him now he is an ATP title winner.
How did Norrie overcome Nikoloz Basilashvili?
The trick was to extend the rallies so that they became physical – which would play to Norrie’s enormous stamina. Yet this was challenging against the man who hits the biggest ball on the tour, off his groundstrokes at least. During the first set, especially, Basilashvili’s forehand kept screaming into the backboard with such force that it could have drilled a hole.
It was late in the second set before Norrie managed to switch the tempo of the whole match, as he finally began to adjust to the howitzers coming his way. The temperature was falling in the oncoming dusk, and the sideways breeze across the court was beginning to pick up – two changes in playing conditions which made Basilashvili’s job that much harder.
“I managed to turn it round today,” Norrie said, “especially after things didn’t go my way early on. And he’s difficult, not really giving you any rhythm. I was able to get my foot in the door, able to hang around, cause some trouble in the third set, and really feel like I was moving well in the end.”
How far can Cameron Norrie go?
The Big Three were all absent from Indian Wells this year and that opened the door for the rest of the field. Admittedly, few would have expected Norrie to finish as the last man standing out of the 96 men who began this event. But he had to chisel his way through four seeded players to become Britain’s first Indian Wells champion.
Norrie now leaves California with a positive winning record against top-20 players this season, even if he has struggled against top-tenners. This gives a sense of where he stands in the pecking order: his new world ranking of No16 is probably about right. But then Norrie is still on an upward trajectory. “My progression has been pretty steady,” he told reporters. “No big jumps, getting slowly better each year.” He is a relentless self-improver, and this boost to his confidence could help him close the gap on the game’s elite.
Can Norrie qualify for the ATP Tour Finals in Turin?
The chance is definitely there, especially as Rafael Nadal – one of nine men ahead of him in the race for eight places – will not be attending. But Norrie would have to overtake either Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz or the in-form Norwegian Casper Ruud to be confident of participating in the end-of-year jamboree.
“Even before this tournament I was in the hunt,” said Norrie on Sunday night. “I was thinking about it [but] if you think about it too much, it can’t be good for you.” He still has three more regular tournaments left this season – European indoor events in Vienna, Paris and Stockholm – and with Paris in particular being a high-scoring Masters 1000, his work is far from done.