Missing Shoes Don't Stop Norrie From Biggest Win Yet

Imagine preparing for the biggest match of your life only to realise your tennis shoes have gone missing! Cameron Norrie faced that challenge on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open, but nothing was able to stop the Briton, who captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title despite the mystery of the missing shoes.

“Every day I left my shoes on top of the locker. I think someone, I don’t know who it was, maybe someone from the cleaners or something last night, came through and they threw the three pairs of shoes that I had away,” Norrie said. “I looked all day. I had everyone looking. I don’t know what the people have against the Brits with stealing the shoes, but I didn’t manage to get them back. Just had to go out there with a fresh pair of shoes.

“It was just difficult. Luckily I didn’t have a wedding ring attached. I didn’t lose that, so it was a bonus for me.”

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Norrie Scoops Biggest Career Title In Indian Wells

It was reminiscent of an incident earlier in the tournament, when Andy Murray left a pair of smelly shoes under his car to air them out. When he woke up, they were gone, and so was his wedding ring, which was attached to the shoelaces. Eventually, the former World No. 1 recovered the shoes.

Norrie did not, but that did not stop him from rallying past Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets to become the first male British singles champion in tournament history.

“I don’t think it mattered too much. Ideally I like to play with shoes that I’ve been using for maybe five or six hits or practices or warmups. I like to have them a little bit used. They feel a bit heavy in general if they’re a bit newer,” Norrie said. “A couple times I was just thinking about it, probably not the best thing. You don’t want to be thinking about your shoes. A little bit to get used to.

“At one point I said, ‘All right, these are the shoes I got, I’m just going to focus on what I can control right now.’ I wore them in a little bit, came good in the end.”

Norrie began the tournament at a career-high World No. 26 and enjoying the best season of his career. But he had never previously made a Masters 1000 quarter-final. Was the run surprising for the lefty?

“I think it’s a little bit surprising. Starting the tournament, you’re a little bit nervous, you’re not really sure, not used to the conditions. You’re not feeling good. I had a couple of tough matches early on,” Norrie said. “I think it just shows if you stick around in these big events, obviously it was pretty miraculous that all the top guys lost, and when I looked at the four semi-finalists, ‘Hmm, it’s a good opportunity here.’ Didn’t really want to get too far ahead of myself.”

It was been an incredible season for the 26-year-old, who was World No. 71 at the start of the year. Now, Norrie is in 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, just 125 points out of the final qualifying spot for the Nitto ATP Finals.

“I think honestly doing it this way, getting slowly, slowly better every year, improving little things, I don’t think I’ve missed anything, made any big jumps. I’ve been working extremely hard. I’ve got a lot of great people around me that’s wanting the best for me,” Norrie said. “We’re taking care of all the little details on the court, off the court, and we all have the same goal in mind. When that all comes together, it definitely helps.”

The two-time ATP Tour titlist was still taking it all in during his post-match press conference. But one thing was clear: Norrie was over the moon after the tournament of his life.

“What an incredible week I’ve had here,” Norrie said. “I still don’t really know what I’m experiencing. It was an amazing couple weeks and I’m so happy with how I treated all the occasions, all the big moments, all the matches. I’m so happy, so pleased to win my biggest title.”

Norrie Scoops Biggest Career Title In Indian Wells

Cameron Norrie is an ATP Masters 1000 champion for the first time after capturing the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open over Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets on Sunday.

The World No. 26 became the first man ranked outside the Top 25 to win in the desert since Ivan Ljubicic in 2010 and jumped to 10th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. The 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 result over the 29th seed came and handed him a second title this season from his sixth final (d. Nakashima in Los Cabos).

In the second ATP Masters 1000 final this year between players ranked outside the Top 25, after Hubert Hurkacz defeated Jannik Sinner in Miami, Norrie became the first British man to win in Indian Wells. Before this year, he had not won a match in two prior main draw appearances.

 But after wins over Tennys Sandgren, Roberto Bautista Agut, Tommy Paul, Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov and Basilashvili, he departs Indian Wells at a career-high No. 16 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and as the new British No. 1.

From an early break down at 1-3, the Georgian began to find his range and won 10 of the next 11 points as his pace of shot from the back of the court began to gain the better of his opponent. Off the back foot, the Georgian whipped a forehand winner into the corner to bring up a break point at 4-3 and put the foot down as he won the last five games of the set.

It was the first time all tournament Norrie had dropped the opening set and if he was to become the first British man to win in the desert he was going to have to win from a set down for the eighth time this season. There were ominous signs when the Briton angled a backhand volley wide to surrender the early break for 2-1 in the second set, but a loose game from the Georgian brought the pair back level.

Norrie was knocking on the door and took his chances when Basilashvili served to stay in the set. The 26-year-old completed a run of eight straight points as he broke to level the match at the 71-minute mark and carried the momentum to an early break in the deciding set.

Basilashvili had his chances with three break point opportunities at 0-2, but Norrie’s retrieval skills came to the fore. His hold proved telling as his opponent struggled to rein in a mounting error count and the match was in the bag after one hour and 51 minutes.

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The Nomadic Life With… Cristian Garin

Cristian Garin has become a consistent presence deep in tournaments, winning five ATP Tour titles since the start of 2019. This week, the Chilean will try to add to that tally at the European Open in Antwerp, where he is the third seed. 

ATPTour.com caught up with Garin to discuss his life on Tour, the three cities he favours, how he deals with jetlag and more.

What are two essential non-tennis items you always pack for trips?
I like books, I like to read. I think it gives me something different. When I read I feel I can focus more on myself and I really like to read.

I also like to travel with the recovery boots. It is a thing that I started to use last year. I use them to recover in the room. I have been using that a lot in the past two years. With the pandemic, the tournaments are putting more things in the hotels, more recovery areas, which is a pretty good thing for us. I have been using them a lot.

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Do you enjoy travelling the world or consider it just something that needs to be done to be a pro tennis player? If you do enjoy it, what do you enjoy about travelling?
I enjoy it. Sometimes the weeks are tough. You go to places where you can’t enjoy the city or place much. Sometimes you just want to get back home. Your friends say, ‘Why did you not go there or go there?’ or this kind of thing. But you reply to them saying you are here working and focusing on tennis, so sometimes you can’t enjoy the places.

But I really like to travel. My dream was to be a tennis player and now I am playing with the best.

Can you talk about a time you decided to play a specific tournament in part because you wanted to travel to that city?
When I choose the tournament, it is because I like the tournament and the conditions or there are not many options with the schedule. But there are tournaments that I like more than others, so it is a good time of the year when I play those tournaments.

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What is your favourite tournament city to visit and why?
I love the U.S. I love Miami and New York. In Europe, I love Paris. Those are my three favourite cities. The Eiffel Tower I have visited many times. When I am in Europe, when I have a week off, I really like to practise in Paris. My best friend lives there and I like to go there when I am in Europe. In the U.S., I have been practising a lot in Miami.

Where is your favourite vacation destination?
I like to be in Chile. Chile is beautiful, I love the country. As a tennis player, I travel a lot. So, when I have holidays, I like to be at home in Chile. It is my place to be when I am not on the Tour.

What is your craziest travel story?
I have never missed any flights, but last year the airplane was having a problem. It was a pretty small airplane, there were 10 people on the flight and we were going from Nice to Barcelona and we had 30 minutes in the air. I saw a red light in the cockpit and I remember that the pilot turned around and said, ‘Guys, we have to go back, we have a problem, but don’t worry.’

But when he said don’t worry, I was dying, so nervous, because we had 30 minutes in the air, which is a lot. We were going back to the airport we started [at], so that was crazy. I remember when he was going down pretty fast and that was terrible. After that we had to change the plane. I didn’t want to go on another plane, I just wanted to go to the hotel and rest!

Are there any routines or activities you do to create a sense of home on the road to feel more comfortable?
It is always tough. It is important for me to have recovery areas or now with the rules, you have time to go out or you can have dinner at a restaurant. That is pretty important to me to have that relief. After the day you can go for a walk or see the city or go to have a coffee.

But in tennis I like to be very focused, so when I finish the day, I like to get some rest and be more relaxed and have a good balance between being focused on the tournament and enjoyment.

How do you try to overcome jetlag and acclimatise to the local time zone?
When I have long flights, the first thing I try to do is to go [on the] bike when I get to the hotel. I try to do at least 20 minutes on the bike then stretch and then I try to sleep. With the jetlag, it is not easy to handle for me.

Sometimes I try to get to the tournament one week or even five days before to get used to the jetlag. I try to go on the bike and get a good sleep. You have to resist [sleeping] until the time. The first day is the most important for me, you have to resist and try to sleep at a decent time. There are no more secrets.

Got any tips to get comfortable on a flight? And how do you pass the time?
I don’t have many problems with flying. I don’t have a problem with sleeping on the flight, I just try to watch a TV show with my airpods. Just put the headphones on and watch a TV show. Most of the time I sleep a lot on flights, which is pretty good. It is not easy from what I have heard from other people.

Are you someone who gets to the airport with lots of time to spare or do you cut it fine?
Very late! I have good timings to get to airports. I have been travelling my whole life. One thing I learned was when to get to the airport at a good time. It is a good thing because every week I go to a different airport, so I know how to handle it.

Will Murray Earn Revenge Against Tiafoe In Antwerp?

Frances Tiafoe beat Andy Murray less than two months ago in Winston-Salem. At the European Open in Antwerp, Murray will have a chance to earn revenge against the American.

Murray will play Tiafoe for the third time in their ATP Head2Head series, it was revealed when the draw for the ATP 250 was made this weekend. The former World No. 1 triumphed in their first clash last year at the Western & Southern Open.

“My level is around 50 or 60 in the world. It’s frustrating because if wasn’t moving great and not feeling good physically then I would be a bit easier on myself,” Murray said. “But when I’m winning a low percentage of second-serve points, that’s got nothing to do with the physical side of things.”

Murray won just 47 per cent of his second-serve points against Tiafoe in August, and will try to turn that around on the indoor hard courts of Antwerp, where the Scot memorably claimed his 46th tour-level singles title — and his first after his most recent hip surgery — two years ago. The winner will face second seed Diego Schwartzman.

Another intriguing first-round match will see Belgian wild card Zizou Bergs challenge seventh seed Lloyd Harris. In 2019, Bergs upset Ramos-Vinolas on home soil and pushed Karen Khachanov in a tough three-setter.

Eight seed Dusan Lajovic will have his hands full against former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet. In their only previous clash three years ago in Madrid, Lajovic needed two tie-breaks to dispatch Gasquet.

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Scouting Report: Sinner Top Seed In Antwerp, Rublev Leads Russians In Moscow

Former Champions To Meet In Moscow Opener
Marin Cilic and Damir Dzumhur have both emerged victorious at the VTB Kremlin Cup, but only one will advance to the second round. Cilic, the two-time tournament champion and Dzumhur, the the 2017 champion, will meet for the second time (Cilic leads 1-0).

Top seed Andrey Rublev received a bye into the second round, in which he will play countryman Roman Safiullin, a wild card, or Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Rublev defeated Mandarin 6-4, 6-0 in the Moscow final two years ago.

Although both men are unseeded, one of the most intriguing first-round matches at the VTB Kremlin Cup is between Australian John Millman and Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi.

Millman, last year’s Nur-Sultan champion, is one of the toughest outs on the ATP Tour due to his fighting spirit and physical game. Bonzi, however, is full of confidence thanks to winning six ATP Challenger Tour titles this year.

Scouting Report: Sinner Top Seed In Antwerp, Rublev Leads Russians In Moscow

The ATP Tour moves to Europe this week, where there will be two ATP 250 events on indoor hard courts. Jannik Sinner leads the way as the top seed at the European Open in Antwerp, and Andrey Rublev will try to retain his trophy in Moscow at the VTB Kremlin Cup.

ATPTour.com looks at five things to watch at each tournament.

View Draws: Antwerp | Moscow

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN ANTWERP
1) Sinner’s Turin Push:
Washington champion Sinner is still in contention for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. The Italian trails 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] by 360 points.

Sinner will play a countryman — Gianluca Mager or #NextGenATP Lorenzo Musetti — in the second round. The 20-year-old made the semi-finals on his Antwerp debut in 2019.

2) De Minaur & Schwartzman Chasing Title: Australian Alex de Minaur enjoyed a run to the championship match in Antwerp in 2020 and will look to go one step better this year and capture his third tour-level title of the season. Seeded sixth, he faces a qualifier in the first round.

Argentine Schwartzman, who reached the final at the ATP 250 event in 2016 and 2017, arrives in form after advancing to the quarter-finals in San Diego and Indian Wells.

3) Murray Accepts Wild Card: Former World No. 1 Murray will compete in Antwerp, where he went on a magical run to the title in 2019, overcoming Stan Wawrinka for the trophy. The 34-year-old arrives at the European Open off the back of advancing to the third round in Indian Wells, where he beat #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. The Scot will play American Frances Tiafoe in the first round, with Schwartzman looming in the second round.

4) Bergs Is Back: Last year in Antwerp, Zizou Bergs made his mark as the World No. 528, stunning Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas before pushing Karen Khachanov deep into a third set in the second round before falling short. Bergs, now inside the Top 200, is back at the ATP 250 as he tries for another big showing on home soil. The Belgian, who is a wild card alongside Murray and Richard Gasquet, opens against seventh seed Lloyd Harris.

5) Malisse Returns With Pupil: Xavier Malisse, the 41-year-old Belgian who cracked the world’s Top 25 in singles and doubles, will compete for the first time in more than five years this week. The 2004 Roland Garros doubles champion (w/Rochus) will play doubles alongside the player he coaches, Harris. This will be Malisse’s first appearance at any level since the Meerbusch ATP Challenger Tour event in 2016. The top seeds in the doubles draw are Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, who made the Indian Wells semi-finals.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN MOSCOW
1) Former Champions In Action: World No. 5 Rublev is the reigning champion in Moscow and returns to defend his title as he aims to win his second tour-level trophy of the season. Croatian Marin Cilic, who captured the crown in 2014 and 2015, 2017 winner Damir Dzumhur and 2018 titlist Karen Khachanov are also in the field.

2) Home Hopes: Rublev, Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Khachanov and 2021 breakthrough star Aslan Karatsev are the leading Russian hopes in Moscow. Karatsev and Rublev will take confidence into their home tournament after reaching the doubles final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Rublev and Khachanov are former singles champions in Moscow, while Karatsev will compete at the event without having to go through qualifying for the first time. This year’s Australian Open semi-finalist is 1-4 at the ATP 250.

3) Bublik Rising: Alexander Bublik has enjoyed the best season of his career, reaching a career-high World No. 34 in September. The Kazakshtani has reached ATP Tour finals this season in Antalya and Singapore. The fifth seed will try to earn his first tour-level crown in Moscow, where he made the quarter-finals as a qualifier in 2016 and 2017.

4) Russian Wild Cards: The three singles wild cards were awarded to Russians, headlined by the country’s ATP Cup captain, Evgeny Donskoy. The 31-year-old made the semi-finals here in 2015. Roman Safiullin and Alibek Kachmazov also received wild cards, and they will play Frenchman Adrian Mannarino and Argentine Federico Coria, respectively.

5) Klaasen/McLachlan Top Seeds: The top seeds in the doubles draw are Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan, who won the Washington title together earlier this year. Although Karatsev and Rublev made the final as a team in Indian Wells, Karatsev will pair with countryman Richard Muzaev and Rublev will play alongside Khachanov. The second seeds are Andrey Golubev and Hugo Nys.

Final Preview: Norrie & Basilashvili Seek Maiden Masters 1000 Title

Cameron Norrie’s breakthrough season is set to hit fever pitch on Sunday as he meets Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili at the BNP Paribas Open in his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

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.

Most Finals In 2021

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 125 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.”

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.

Basilashvili Holds Nerve To Beat Fritz

© Getty Images

Nikoloz Basilashvili is chasing his sixth ATP Tour title.

Georgian seeks biggest title of career against Norrie in Sunday’s final

After a season of discontent at ATP Masters 1000 level, Nikoloz Basilashvili is one win away from the biggest title of his career after fending off Taylor Fritz in the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals Saturday.

The Georgian, who had suffered five first-round losses from six appearances at Masters 1000 level this year heading into Indian Wells, saved three sets points in the first set and all seven break points he faced – including two in the final game – to defeat the 23-year-old American 7-6(5), 6-3.

Basilashvili had to wait until the sixth game of the second set to earn a break point chance but capitalised fully to break Fritz for a match-breaking 4-2 lead. In Sunday’s final he will play in-form British left-hander Cameron Norrie.

More to follow…

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Karatsev & Rublev Crush Way Into Indian Wells Doubles Final

© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev advance to their second final of the season.

Russians seek second team title of 2021

Aslan Karatsev dazzled on the baseline and at net Friday night as he teamed with Andrey Rublev to charge into the doubles final at the BNP Paribas Open.

The Russians fell behind 0-3 in the match tie-break against German Tim Puetz and New Zealand’s Michael Venus before winning 10 of the last 12 points to set up a 6-3, 4-6, 10-5 win.

Karatsev, who teamed with Rublev to win the Doha doubles title earlier in the year, crushed numerous clean winners off the return and baseline and also was explosive at net. For his part, Rublev’s massive forehand always kept Puetz and Venus on edge.

In Saturday’s final the ATP Cup-winning teammates will play the winner of seventh seeds John Peers and Filip Polasek and eighth seeded Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo.

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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 125 points behind Hubert Hurkacz, who currently occupies the last qualifying spot. [Eighth-placed Rafael Nadal will not compete due to a foot injury.]

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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.”

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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).

Fritz Saves 2 MPs, Upsets Zverev To Reach Indian Wells SFs

Taylor Fritz’s breakthrough run continued Friday at the BNP Paribas Open as he saved two match points to earn his second Top 5 win of his career and reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

The American rallied from a 2-5 down in the decider and saved two match points at 3-5, 30/40 and 4-5, 30/40 to upset World No. 4 Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) after two hours and 22 minutes in Indian Wells.

“I was really down and out but I found a way to put myself into it,” Fritz said in his on-court interview. “I really wanted to make him have to close me out and I was able to get back into the match. Normally you would be so nervous in those situations and in the third set tie-break, but I felt so confident being aggressive, going after my game. It feels really great to play well with the pressure on.”

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The 31st seed, who recorded straight-set wins over Nitto ATP Finals hopefuls Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner en route to his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final, played aggressive tennis against Zverev, firing 36 winners to advance.

Fritz now trails Zverev 2-3 in their ATP Head2Head series and will face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last four after the Georgian overcame second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to reach his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final.

“The biggest thing was match point down, I wanted to make him serve it out, so I just fought as hard as I could to hold that game,” Fritz said. “Then I got fortunate in his service game and from there I felt in control and felt really good under the pressure.

“It is amazing. Especially the way that match ended with such high emotions with the crowd. The crowd was amazing and it is a dream come true.”

The Californian resident is making his fifth appearance in Indian Wells, with his previous best result a run to the fourth round in 2018. Fritz’s only other Top 5 win came against then-World No. 5 Dominic Thiem at the Laver Cup in 2019.

The 23-year-old has reached semi-finals in Doha, Cagliari and Los Cabos. Fritz will try to avenge his Doha defeat to Basilashvili when they meet on Saturday.

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Basilashvili Soars Into First Masters 1000 SF In Indian Wells

After breaks were exchanged at the start of the first set, with Zverev double-faulting to drop serve, the German began to take control with his consistent deep groundstrokes. The World No. 4 committed just six unforced errors in the set to move ahead.

Fritz altered his tactics in the second set and started to play aggressively as he blasted 13 winners from all areas of the court, overpowering Zverev to march 4-1 ahead. After Fritz sealed the set on his serve, Zverev regained momentum in the decider as he continued to soak up the 31st seed’s power. The American’s level slightly dipped in the third set and after Zverev broke early, he was able to put his foot down and roar into a 5-2 lead.

However, the German’s second serve abandoned him when he was trying to serve out the match. Zverev struck two double faults as Fritz broke back. After moving to a tie-break, the American found his best tennis to prevail in a tight match.

Zverev was aiming to win his third ATP Masters 1000 title of the season in Indian Wells, having triumphed in Madrid and Cincinnati earlier this year. The German entered the match in strong form after winning 20 of his past 21 matches on hard courts.