Norrie, Badosa are first-time winners at Indian Wells
A handful of tennis' superstars skipped the coronavirus-delayed BNP Paribas Open. A rash of upsets sent other big names packing, too.
Indian Wells: A handful of tennis' superstars skipped the coronavirus-delayed BNP Paribas Open. A rash of upsets sent other big names packing, too. Left standing at the end as champions were two players ranked outside the Top 25.
Britain's Cameron Norrie beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday, giving the tournament its first men's winner ranked outside of the Top 25 since 2010. Paula Badosa of Spain edged Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-6 (2), becoming just the third woman to win in her Indian Wells debut.
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams were among those skipping the tournament that was delayed 2 1/2 years because of the coronavirus.
The two-week event was hit with a rash of upsets, including top seeds Daniil Medvedev and Karolina Pliskova. That cleared the way for the up-and-coming Norrie and Badosa to claim the biggest titles of their young careers. They earned $1.2 million each.
"Obviously, it was pretty miraculous that all the top guys lost," Norrie said. "When I looked at the four semifinalists, hmm, it's a good opportunity here." Norrie, ranked 26th, had the only two breaks of the final set and won when Basilashvili's backhand sailed long on match point.
Basilashvili, ranked 36th, was the first player from the former Soviet republic of Georgia to reach an ATP Masters 1000 final. Norrie, Ivan Ljubicic in 2019, Alex Corretja in 2000 and Jim Courier in 1991 — all were ranked 26th — won the title while ranked outside the Top 25 since the tournament moved to Indian Wells in 1987.
Larry Stefanki was ranked 143rd when he won in 1985 at nearby La Quinta. Badosa joined Bianca Andreescu in 2019 and Serena Williams in 1999 in winning the title in her first appearance.
It was Badosa's second title of her career, having won in Belgrade earlier this year. Badosa and Azarenka struggled for over three hours, trading back-to-back service breaks five times. The last time Azarenka broke for a 5-4 lead in the third, and Badosa broke right back for a 5-all tie.
"We were both going for our shots, really pushing each other to the max," Azarenka said. Badosa missed a backhand that allowed Azarenka to hold at 6-all. Badosa dominated the tiebreaker, racing to a 6-2 lead.
Azarenka dumped a forehand into the net to give Badosa match point. Badosa cracked a forehand winner, then collapsed at the baseline. She lie face down, crying and shaking, before getting up.