There's one match to go in the men's singles at the Indian Wells Masters, with Cameron Norrie facing Nikoloz Basilashvili for their first ever Masters title. Dan Weston previews the match...
"Broadly, I agree with this market line. My model went 1.625/8 in favour of the Brit, who has won a higher percentage of service and return points on hard court this year, giving him an edge on the surface over Basilashvili."
Norrie and Basilashvili meet in shock final
You'd have got long odds at the start of the tournament to predict an Indian Wells Masters final between two players who had never reached a final at this level, let alone specifically Cameron Norrie and Nikoloz Basilashvili. Norrie got the better of Grigor Dimitrov yesterday in straight sets to make his first Masters 1000 final, while in the later semi-final, Basilashvili also progressed via a 2-0 scoreline as an underdog against Taylor Fritz to give us our fourth consecutive winner in what has turned into a nicely profitable tournament for this column.
Norrie with chance to end five-year wait for a British Masters winner
We have to go back to the end of 2016 to find a British winner of a Masters 1000 tournament - Andy Murray, unsurprisingly it was, who got the better of John Isner in Paris - so Norrie can end an almost five-year wait, and what an incredible result it would be for British Tennis, coming so quickly after Emma Raducanu won the US Open last month.
Murray was ranked world number two at the time, but both of these players are ranked outside the top 25 at the time of writing, illustrating quite how difficult it was to have predicted these two finalists in advance. Of course, both Norrie and Basilashvili will enjoy nice rises in the world rankings regardless of tonight's result, and will guarantee themselves Australian Open seeding as a result.
In fact, the 1,000 ranking points gained for the title would put Norrie on the verge of the top eight in the calendar year - a feat which would ensure qualification for the season-ending Tour Finals in Turin next month.
Norrie status as market favourite justified
Evidently, it's clear that there are numerous incentives for both players to perform tonight, but in their first ever Masters finals, it may well be that whoever handles their nerves best will get the victory. Norrie is the 1.654/6 Exchange favourite to do so, at the time of writing.
Broadly, I agree with this market line. My model went 1.625/8 in favour of the Brit, who has won a higher percentage of service and return points on hard court this year, giving him an edge on the surface over Basilashvili.
In fact, Norrie's combined percentage of just below 105% illustrates that he's playing to a pretty high level this year on the surface, and this should be reflected by his inevitable rise up the rankings.
Basilashvili has needed three consecutive underdog victories to get to this stage, getting the better of Karen Khachanov, Stefanos Tsitsipas and yesterday, Taylor Fritz, and it may well be a bridge too far for the Georgian to get a fourth. But while there's no value in my view pre-match, I do always enjoy these rare finals in high profile tournaments where big names aren't involved, so the match promises to be a fascinating spectacle.
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