There were a few firsts at the BNP Paribas Open final that was played at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in what was being billed as a special fall edition of the tournament.
The 26-year-old British lefthander Cam Norrie became the first British man to win the title after being the fourth British man and the first since 2009 to reach the final; the previous three were Andy Murray, Tim Henman twice and Greg Rusedski and he was also the first lefthander since Rafa Nadal in 2013 to win the title.
Cam Norrie came back from a set down to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. It was their second meeting and Norrie has won both.
“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, especially against Bautista Agut. I think that was my toughest match. Physically that match was rough,” 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.
“I think in the past, a little bit with my experience, being on the tour four years now, I was very calm in the bigger moments, and I played unbelievable, my best tennis, against Diego and Grigor in the quarters and semis. Those were huge matches for me. To come out and play that level, to manage to turn it round today, 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, really feel like I was moving well in the end.”
For both Norrie and Basilashvili it was the biggest final of their careers and the first time in a Masters 1000 final. For Norrie it was his sixth final of the year, that equals Novak Djokovic, and for Basilashvili it was his third final in 2021. He is also the first player from the nation of Georgia to reach a Masters 1000 final. Basilashvili said after the first set he wasn’t feeling great but added that Norrie was very tough.
“I was very tight. I had some problems, health problems, in the third set. I tried to go out, take a breath a bit, but I could not recover,” Basilashvili said. “I had it already little bit on previous matches, but now it was too severe in the third set. I did not have anything left. I will not say what it is because I don't want to say, but I did not felt good.
“But I think Cameron, that he came back in the second set, he deserves it. He was very tough mentally. I could not find in second set how to beat him. At some point he was playing very flat backhand, very good spin forehand. I had to put a lot of energy, and I could not, to the shot. But it's okay, yeah.”
The win has catapulted Norrie into contention for a place in the season-ending ATP Finals which will be play in November in Turin for the first time.
The doubles title was won by the relatively new pairing of John Peers and Filip Polasek who defeated the Russians Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev 6-3, 7-6.