Nikoloz Basilashvili beat American Taylor Fritz 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Saturday to set up a final against Cameron Norrie at the BNP Paribas Open, which will crown his first male winner out of the Top 25 since 2010.
Briton Norrie beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in an 86-minute semi-final. Basilashvili needed an hour and 41 minutes to get rid of Fritz, who grew up in the San Diego area and was clearly a fan favorite.
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka will face 21st seed of Spain’s Paula Badosa in the women’s final on Sunday.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM
The combined ATP and WTA tournament was filled with upheaval during its two weeks in the fall instead of its usual March date. Seeders Daniil Medvedev and Karolina Pliskova were among the fallen in a missing event Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams.
This is the first time in the tournament’s 45-year history that the four male semi-finalists have been ranked outside the Top 25. Norrie is 25th, Dimitrov 28th, Basilashvili 36th and Fritz 39th.
The last man outside the Top 25 to win Indian Wells was 26th Ivan Ljubicic in 2010.
Fritz was trying to reach the final and had a chance of becoming the first American winner of the tournament since Andre Agassi in 2001. Instead, the 23-year-old fell to 0-5 in the semifinals this year.
Fritz’s ace gave him a 6-5 lead in the first. He had a breaking point on Basilashivili’s serve to close the set, but the hard-hitting Georgian pushed him back and hit a crossback winner on the second two to force the tie-breaker. Tied at 5 on the breaker, Fritz made two consecutive errors to drop the set.
“His backhand, he definitely hits harder than anyone on tour,” Fritz said. “The way he goes through the court so hard, flat and deep you really can’t do anything. If I wanted to be more aggressive I would have opened myself up to a lot more mistakes just trying to hit such a big ball hard. . “
Basilashvili got the game’s first break in Game 6, then held a 5-2 lead. Fritz lost a point on his serve in the next game to get closer to 5-3.
Basilashvili could not convert on his first three match points. His unforced errors gave Fritz two break points before the winner of Basilashvili’s forehand on the open court closed the win.
There were four service breaks in the first set, Norrie winning three.
Norrie converted the only second-set break in Game 1 when the Bulgarian scored a forehand. Norrie’s forehand winner gave him a 4-2 lead and he served the game out of love.
“When I went to serve for the game, I was like, ‘This is definitely a big service game here,’” said Norrie. “I was a little nervous. But I got out and served really well.”
Second-seeded duo Su-Wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens defeated Veronika Kudermetova and Elena Rybakina 7-6 (1), 6-3 to win the women’s doubles title. Hsieh and Mertens won $ 414,500.