Cameron Norrie came from behind to upset the top seed, Andrey Rublev, booking his place in the final of the ATP San Diego Open with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
The British No 2 had upset number four seed Denis Shapovalov in the last eight, but was broken in the fourth game of the opening set of the semi-final as Rublev quickly moved 4-1 ahead. The world No 5 went on to close out the set 6-3 and looked to be on course for the final.
Norrie, who won his first ATP Tour title in Los Cabos, Mexico earlier this year, saved three break points in the third game of the second set and that proved to be a turning point. The world No 28 dug in to put pressure on Rublev’s serve, breaking in the next game after the Russian sent a backhand volley wide.
The Russian began to lose his cool in the California sun, hitting his leg in frustration as Norrie held and then opened up a 5-2 lead. Rublev saved two set points in the next game, but couldn’t convert either of his two break points as Norrie served out the set.
An early break and hold in the decider saw Norrie move 3-1 ahead and then to the edge of victory at 5-3. Rublev pulled a game back but could not deny Norrie a hard-earned win. He will face either Grigor Dimitrov or Casper Ruud, who eliminated Andy Murray in the second round.
“What an incredible match,” Norrie said afterwards to Amazon Prime Video. “All credit to Andrey because he came out firing and played some big tennis at the beginning and then I managed to weather the storm.
“This is such a big win for me, I am good friends with Andrey so it is not easy playing against him,” Norrie added after reaching his fifth final of 2021. “It is definitely a match I will remember for a long time. I will try and rest up to get ready [for the final], the tournament is real tough.”
Currently at a career-high world ranking of No 28, Norrie is six places below Dan Evans, who he beat in the second round in California. The 26-year-old is set to cut the gap further next week as he bids to become the British No 1 for the first time in his career.