Cameron Norrie is on course to book a seat at the big table of world tennis in Turin next month after revealing a local Italian restaurant was the secret to his success in California. The new British No 1 beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6 6-4 6-1 to secure his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The new world No.15 is also up to 10th place in the Singles Race to qualify for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in Piedmont.
And Norrie, 26, said he had an appetite for Italian all week after dining every night at the lucky Mamma Gina restaurant in nearby Palm Desert.
“I went the first night,” he said. “They told me Dominic Thiem and Juan Martín del Potro won the tournament here and they ate here every night.
“So I said I would come back if I win. I came back and had five or six nights in a row there. The same meal on match days. I mixed it up on the other days. I am usually never like that. Maybe it did work this week!”
Norrie, who started the year ranked world No.71, won his first ATP Tour title across the border in Mexico in July and his remarkable consistency has seen him reach six finals. The top eight players of the year will compete at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from November 14-21 – the event has moved from The O2. With Rafa Nadal out injured, Norrie sits only 160 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz Norrie and will play in Vienna, Paris and Stockholm over the next month in a late bid to quality.
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“It would be nice to make it but I’m going to keep going, keep taking care of what I can and handling what I can,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the indoor season. I really like the courts. I’ve never really made a deep run in one of those tournaments, but I always play well. I always lose tight matches. Hopefully those can swing in my favour this year.”
None of the Big Three of Djokovic, Nadal or Roger Federer were playing in Indian Wells as their era of domination draws to an inevitable end.
And the victory caps an extraordinary month for British tennis with Emma Raducanu the new British female No.1 after her US Open triumph. But unlike the teenager from Bromley, Norrie has taken a more indirect route to the top of the game. Born in South Africa to British parents, his family moved to New Zealand before he became a college star at the Texas Christian University.
Physically he is a monster who can run all day, but the left-hander has also improved his serve and groundstrokes with the contrast between his loopy forehand and his flat backhand posing problems to his opponents.
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Now, despite not getting past the third round in a Grand Slam, he is only three wins away from joining Andy Murray and Tim Henman as the only British players to win 50 Tour-level matches in a year this century.
Murray, who lost in the third round in Indian Wells, admitted: “I’d be lying if I said that I called that to be honest. However, I have spent a decent amount of time around him and practised with him quite a lot and he works extremely hard.
“I think he’s a great example for not just British players but all tennis players to look at and go, if you put the effort in day in, day out and properly dedicate yourself to the sport, have an attitude like he does, it can take you a long, long way. I knew he was good, but to be top 20 in the world and pushing for a spot in the tour finals is an incredible effort.”
Murray will face Frances Tiafoe at the European Open in Antwerp today.
Emma Raducanu, who will return to action at the Transylvanian Open in Romania next week, is to start a trial period with Johanna Konta’s former coach Esteban Carril.