Former champion Cameron Norrie continued his love affair with the BNP Paribas Open Tuesday when he defeated Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals in Indian Wells.
The Briton lifted the biggest trophy of his career at the hard-court event in 2021 and moved to within three wins of matching that feat this week after producing one of his best performances of the season to defeat Rublev after 75 minutes.
The 10th seed absorbed Rublev’s power, redirecting the ball to find stunning angles as he pushed the sixth seed wide. Norrie converted all five of his break points, serving out the match at the second time of asking to earn his eighth consecutive win and level his ATP Head2Head series against Rublev at 2-2.
“Off the ground I was rock solid,” Norrie said. “It was a little cooler today so I felt like I had more time on the ball. I played well in the big moments. Andrey is not an easy guy to beat, so I was really pleased to come through in straight sets.
“There wasn’t a lot to take from [my loss to him at the US Open last year]. I played one of my worst matches of the year. Maybe that’s why he got a little frustrated today because what he did last time wasn’t working today.”
The 27-year-old lefty, who defeated World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz to lift the trophy in Rio de Janeiro last month, has now earned 21 wins in 2023, including four Top 10 victories. Norrie will continue the quest for his sixth tour-level title when in the quarter-finals he faces American Frances Tiafoe, who defeated Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo 6-4, 6-4.
Rublev was aiming to improve on his 9-1 record against left handers since the start of 2022, having defeated Ugo Humbert in the third round. The 25-year-old is 11-7 on the year, with his best result a run to the final in Dubai.
Tiafoe earned his 150th tour-level win and advanced to his first Indian Wells quarter-final by overcoming a slow start against Tabilo, who had two break points for a 4-0 lead in the opening set. A battling hold in that pivotal game sparked a run of five games as the American took control of the match, and he again fought off a pair of break points to serve out the match in set two.
“That 3-0 hold was huge,” Tiafoe said. “That loosened me up. I played a great return game after that and I just took my level up to a whole other level and he wasn’t able to match. At the end it got pretty breezy there, so it was tough to close it out, but other than that, after that 3-0 game I thought it was one-way traffic.”
The 14th seed converted on all three of his break points in the match, including one in the opening game of the second set, and finished with six aces and 22 winners. Through to his third ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final (Miami 2019, Paris 2022), Tiafoe has not dropped more than four games in a set during his desert run.
In the lone previous ATP Head2Head matchup between Tiafoe and Norrie, the Briton scored a three-set win in the 2021 Delray Beach quarter-finals.
“He’s a former champ here and he’s getting everything out of his career,” the American said, looking ahead to their meeting. “I have nothing but respect for that guy. He’s putting some miles on those legs and getting a lot of wins while doing it. We’re both in totally different places in our careers than last time we played. He’s playing some of the best tennis of his life and so am I. It should be a great show, and I’m going to be coming for him.”