British No1 Cameron Norrie stormed into the quarter-finals of Indian Wells in just 78 minutes, despatching an angry and agitated Andrey Rublev in straight sets.
Norrie has flown the flag for British tennis in no uncertain style over the past 18 months. His game has climbed to a new level since he scored a shock victory at this very tournament – which had been rescheduled because of the pandemic – in October 2021.
Increasingly, it seems that these gritty courts in the Californian desert suit his equally gritty game style. The ball is hard to put away here against anyone, because of the way the sand in the surface takes the pace out of shots, but especially against a natural born roadrunner like Norrie.
“Off the ground I was rock solid,” said Norrie after his 6-2, 6-4 win, which makes him the first Briton – even including Andy Murray – to reach the quarter-finals of Indian Wells in three successive seasons.
“It was cooler today so I felt like I had a lot of time on the ball. The ball does slow up quite a lot, so it’s tough to put it away, but I don’t really mind the conditions at all so I’m not complaining.”
Rublev certainly was complaining, however. Indeed, he started ranting at himself – and even hitting his own legs with his racket – in the very first game of the match. The watching pundit Annabel Croft declared herself shocked by his tantrums, explaining that she had never seen their like at such an early stage of a match.
Later, Norrie offered one possible explanation, telling the on-court interviewer that he had produced one of his worst performances of 2022 while going down to Rublev in the fourth round of the US Open.
“Regardless of how I played I was going to improve from that last match,” he said. “Maybe that was kind of helpful coming in here, because he played the same way, but I was really solid on my backhand side today. Maybe he got frustrated because last time that [tactic of attacking Norrie’s backhand] was working and today it wasn’t working.”