Cameron Norrie, of Britain, returns to Diego Schwartzman, of Argentina, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
No. 21 seed Cameron Norrie takes on No. 23 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the Indian Wells semifinals Saturday.
Neither player was expected to be in the final four; both earned their way with inspired play
The odds are almost too close to call; we break down the matchup and look for value.
On paper, this top-half BNP Paribas Open men’s singles semifinal would have been No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev vs No. 4 seed Andrey Rublev.
It turns out that wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, as No. 21 Cameron Norrie of Great Britain and No. 23 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria will do battle on Saturday.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Cameron Norrie Odds
 Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
O 22.5 (-110)
 Cameron Norrie (GBR)
U 22.5 (-130)
Odds as of Oct. 15 at DraftKings
Norrie’s Road Easier, but Longer
Through four matches, Norrie has spent more time on court – about 8 1/2 hours. compared to 7 1/2 hours for Dimitrov.
But he’s also had the relatively easier road, in terms of quality of opponents.
The highest-ranked player Norrie faced was No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals. And it turned out to be by far his easiest match, after three-set marathons in his first three rounds.
Norrie needed just an hour and 13 minutes, and lost just two games, in an emphatic dismissal of an out-of-gas Schwartzman.
2022 Australian Open Odds Tracker
Grigor Dimitrov & Cameron Norrie Roads to the Semis
def. Daniel Altmaier 6-4, 6-2
def. Tennys Sandgren(USA) 6-4, 5-7, 6-0
def  Reilly Opelka 6-3, 6-4
def.  Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 5-7, 6-3
def  Daniel Medvedev 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
def. Tommy Paul 6-4, 4-6, 6-2
def.  Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2)
def.  Diego Schwartzman 6-0, 6-2
Dimitrov Survives Two Top Seeds
For Dimitrov, it’s been a revelatory week.
If he spent less time on court than Norrie, he also managed to get through two of the tougher opponents in the draw. And he had to summon up all of his might to do it.
Dimitrov was down 1-4 in the third set to Medvedev, the reigning US Open champion. And somehow, he managed to get through.
A tactical change with his slice backhand likely was the deciding factor.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Cameron Norrie Head-to-Head
30 (May 16, 1991)
26 (Aug. 23, 1995)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Career ATP Singles Titles
No. 3 (Nov. 20, 2017)
Career High Ranking
No. 26 (Oct. 4, 2021)
Career Prize Money
2021 Won/Loss record
Norrie Leads Head-to-Head 1-0
It was only six months ago, but a very different context, when Norrie and Dimitrov met for the only time in their careers.
It was not a great serving day for Dimitrov, who had just four aces. He kept up a good first-serve percentage. But he won just 37-percent of his second-serve points. And Norrie broke him four times in nine opportunities.
The rallies were grueling – one lasted a leg-buckling 44 shots. You’d expect even more of that in the desert conditions.
In Miami, where the humidity was stifling, Dimitrov was the one who surrendered physically first.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Cameron Norrie Match History
Miami Open (R64)
Stylistic Contrast, on a Slow Court
Dimitrov’s topspin forehand to Norrie’s solid but extremely flat backhand will be one pattern.
The other pattern will be Norrie’s lefty forehand to Dimitrov’s versatile one-handed backhand. And that’s where the match likely will be won or lost.
Will Dimitrov hit a lot of slices, as he did so effectively against Medvedev? It has to be absolutely knifed to stay down on the gritty Indian Wells court. And it will be going to Norrie’s forehand, not his flat backhand.
As beautiful as the Bulgarian’s one-handed backhand is, it’s hard to predict how it will hold up against the heavy spin the lefty Norrie produces on the forehand side – spin that bounces up even higher in the Indian Wells conditions.
VOLLEY OF THE YEAR 😱@GrigorDimitrov isn’t human!#BNPPO21 pic.twitter.com/tUYOt9woRY
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) October 14, 2021
It’s expected to be warm on Saturday at Indian Wells. But there will be nothing of the humidity that eventually finished off Dimitrov in Miami.
And if it feels as though Dimitrov should have nothing left, most thought he might not recover from the Medvedev win to come back and beat Hurkacz the next day.
But he did. This time, he’ll have an extra day to refuel.
Still, this one’s too close to call. The best bets are on the length of the match.
Best Bet: Over 2.5 sets (+130); Over 23.5 games (+110)