Tiafoe overwhelms Norrie 6-4, 6-4 to reach maiden Indian Wells Masters semifinal
To date, Cam Norrie has had a standout season. The 27-year-old Brit’s season commenced at the inaugural United Cup where he dispatched Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Rafa Nadal. He reached the final in Auckland (l.Gasquet) and the third round at the Australian Open (l. Lehecka). He changed surfaces and his win/loss record reaching back-to-back finals on the dirt in Buenos Aires (l. Alcaraz) and Rio where he exacted revenge on world #2 Carlos Alcaraz.
Norrie also has tasted success in the California desert. In 2021 when the event was moved to the fall due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the lefty left his competitors in the dust to claim his first Masters 1000 title.
Francis Tiafoe reasserted himself at the US Open last fall. The affable 25-year-old eliminated 22-time grand slam champion Nadal in the fourth round, world #11 Andrey Rublev in the quarters and took eventual champion and world #1 Alcaraz to five. He too played exceptionally well at the United Cup winning all five matches including the Cup and like Norrie, lost in the third round down under.
The American was playing his first seeded player of the event and seeking his maiden semi of the season and at Indian Wells. This was their second tour level meeting; in 2021 at the Delray Beach Open, Norrie prevailed in three. Tiafoe won the toss and chose to receive.
Norrie missed 3/4 first serves yet held to love while Tiafoe’s opening service game was interrupted by two brief rain delays. After resuming play, he struck two huge serves and a blistering backhand down the line to level.
The Brit opened the third with a netted backhand but with two fantastic forehand winners and an ace out wide, held to 30 for 2-1. Tiafoe held for 2-2 despite missing 5/10 first serves including a double fault, gifting four unforced errors and facing two deuce points.
The world #12 struck two groundstroke winners and held easily to 15 while Tiafoe hit three consecutive winners including an ace and held at love for 3-3. Norrie opened the seventh or swing game with a whiffed forehand and though he hit another ace, faced double break point and dumped serve following an incredible inside-out forehand winner from his opponent.
Tiafoe serving with new balls struck two forehand volley winners and consolidated the break at love to lead 5-3. Norrie serving to stay in the set diffused any pressure with two consecutive aces and a love hold. The American opened the 10th with a backhand let cord winner and with his repeated forays to the net, closed out the set 6-4 when Norrie netted the backhand pass.
Norrie served first in the second and with two additional errors faced double break point and dropped serve with another mishit forehand. Tiafoe continued to dictate play utilizing pace and sharp angles to confound his opponent. He missed 4/6 first serves and with four unforced errors, two off each side, dumped serve.
Norrie continued to misfire on serve and off the ground yet despite a double fault and a deuce point, consolidated the break for 2-1. Tiafoe playing with composure and conviction, reached parity with two consecutive winners including his second ace.
Norrie faced double break point following another double fault and mishit forehand and dropped serve when Tiafoe crushed a crosscourt backhand. The world #16 consolidated the break for 4-2 despite missing 5/6 first serves.
Norrie continued to struggle with the conditions and his timing. He missed 8/12 first serves including another double fault and with four additional errors, faced three deuce and five break points and dumped serve when he went wide with a slice backhand.
Tiafoe served for the match at 5-2 but soon faced triple break point after Norrie struck three consecutive volley winners. Tiafoe saved all three with three winners but dropped serve with his second double fault.
Norrie refused to yield and with three huge serves two of them aces, held at love for 4-5 forcing Tiafoe to serve it out. The American struck his fourth ace and reached triple match point but needed just one to secure his maiden semifinal appearance in the desert.
Tiafoe came in hot and executed his game plan to perfection while Norrie was clearly far from his best. He won a staggering 77% of first and 56% of second serve points and close to 60% of second serve return points. He saved 5/7 break points while converting 4/9 and hit the same number of winners and unforced errors (22).
In the penultimate round he’ll battle either former world #1 and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina just twenty-three years of age and ranked #28.
He defeated Fokina last season in three tight sets on the dirt in their only tour level meeting to date. Medvedev, however, leads the head-to-head 4-0 all on hardcourt. No matter the opponent, the American is sure to bring Big Foe energy to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as he endeavors to win his second career title.