The unlikely duo of Cameron Norrie and Nikoloz Basilashvili will be battling in the championship match of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., after winning their semifinal matches on Saturday.
The 21st-seeded Norrie recorded a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 23rd-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in his semifinal, while the 29th-seeded Basilashvili dispatched 31st-seeded American Taylor Fritz 7-6 (5) 6-3 to punch his ticket into Sunday’s final.
Norrie will be looking for his second career title — the first came at Los Cabos in July.
Basilashvili has won two titles this season and five in his career. But none of the wins have come at the Masters 1000 level, where Indian Wells is rated.
Norrie won the lone previous meeting, downing Basilashvili in straight sets at Rotterdam on March 1.
Norrie, a 26-year-old Brit, hit 12 winners (including four aces) and committed 19 unforced errors in the 86-minute victory over Dimitrov. He seemed more energetic than Dimitrov, the 30-year-old from Bulgaria.
“I came out and played really physical,” Norrie said afterward. “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.”
Dimitrov had 15 winners and was hurt by 31 unforced errors.
Basilashvili had 25 winners and 26 unforced errors while knocking off Fritz in one hour and 41 minutes.
After playing well for most of the second set, the Georgian got a bit antsy in trying to close out the win.
He led 5-2 before Fritz easily won the next game. Fritz was unable to convert on two break-point chances in a long ninth game to finish 0-for-7 on break points converted for the match.
Basilashvili finally scored a forehand winner on his fourth match point of the game to end it.
“It means a lot, especially at Indian Wells, which people call it like a fifth Grand Slam,” Basilashvili said afterward of reaching his first Masters 1000 final. “To get through so many matches is very important. I’m at the top of my game now and feeling the best.
“This was my first time in a Masters 1000 semifinal so I was a little bit tight. I just tried to get rid of (the tension) as much as I could because if I just focus on my game I can play good tennis.”
The crowd was pro-Fritz as he grew up in San Diego, located 120 miles to the southwest.
Fritz, who turns 24 on Oct. 28, had an 11-3 edge in aces. He scored 23 winners and committed 17 unforced errors.
–Field Level Media