Even as the tour winds down after a long, gruelling year, Cameron Norrie continues to add to his achievements in the best season of his life.
At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Norrie moved into his first career ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final by defeating the American Tommy Paul 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
“I was just pleased to be through,” he said. “I’m not really playing my best but fighting hard and competing as hard as I can. I’m actually, in the big moments, serving well.”
With his victory, Norrie has now won 44 matches this year, a distinction that places him sixth on the total wins leaderboard for 2021 alongside Novak Djokovic. Norrie, 26, will face Diego Schwartzman, the 11th seed, in the quarter-final after he defeated the sixth seed, Casper Ruud, 6-3, 6-3.
Seeded 21st in California, Norrie had arrived in the fourth round after a big win over the 15th seed, Roberto Bautista Agut. His reward was a great opportunity against Paul, a talented young American with a loose, languid all-court game and sweet two-handed backhand, who had defeated Andrey Rublev, the fourth seed, in the prior round.
From the beginning, Norrie conducted himself as he has throughout this season, erecting a wall on his side of the court and outlasting Paul in the early exchanges with his point-by-point intensity. Norrie breezed to a 5-1 lead and then coolly closed out the set at his second attempt.
Paul responded by striking his forehand with more precision, continually approaching the net and he broke down the Norrie forehand to take the second set.
But Norrie’s 44 wins are a reflection of his ability to handle adversity and after the pair opened the set with five consecutive scrappy breaks, Norrie was resilient enough to shrug off his missed service games and take control. He held serve for 4-2 and maintained his intensity until the end.
The most impressive aspect of Norrie’s season has been how he has sustained his level from tournament to tournament.
He made his first quarter-final in Delray Beach in the first week of the year and he has now made nine quarter-finals and finals on every surface. After 10 long months, he is in the top 15 in the ATP race for Turin. There is more to come.
Grigor Dimitrov pulled off the biggest shock of the men’s tournament when he recovered from a set and 4-1 down to beat Daniil Medvedev, the No 1 seed.
Dimitrov ended up winning the second set 6-4 and then continued in that vein, with Medvedev, the US Open champion, unable to find a reply. The Bulgarian comfortably won the third set 6-3 for his best win of the year.