Paula Badosa and Cameron Norrie win Indian Wells

Paula Badosa

At the start of the tournament, at Indian Wells, who would have thought that Paula Badosa and Cameron Norrie would win the event? It was almost impossible. Neither of them had won a big tournament, and they were not in the top 25. Watching them, they looked pretty good, but not spectacular.

Then in the desert, it changed. Before that, they could be very effective, or they could space out and lose.

The Spaniard Badosa really worked each day, practicing, and adding to her game. In the final, she edged Vika Azarenka 7-6 in the third set. It took over three hours, but she was still so composed.

“I’ve learned this week is that nothing is impossible. If you fight, if you work, after all these years, you can achieve anything. And to dream,” Badosa said. “Sometimes you have tough moments. In my case I have been through tough moments. I never stopped dreaming. That’s what kept me working hard and believing until the last moment.”

She can leap side to side, she can create points and decide to push close to the lines, and she can be forceful. Badosa decided that she did not want to let down, but to think about each second. Even if she missed an easy shot, on the next point, she can turn it around. She is not perfect, but she is booming.

“This year I had, of course, a roller-coaster year, disappointments and everything. But after all I’ve been through in my life, it wasn’t disappointment. That’s the good part,” she said. “When you suffer a lot, when you’re young, when you have a little bit of disappointment, you don’t feel it like that. So that’s the good part of what happened this year. Of course, I have bad moments. But compared to the things I’ve been through, it’s nothing. Of course, every morning I wake up, and my dream is to win a tournament like this or to win a Grand Slam. That keeps me motivated to keep working and to always believe.”

The 26-year Norrie is not too old, or too young. He is in the middle of the road. But he put his foot on the gas, and he won it, hands down. At Indian Wells, he won six matches, with four three-setters. In the third set, he was bolted. In the final, he smashed Nicola Basilashvili when he was the most challenged.

Three weeks ago, he reached the final in San Diego, beating Daniel Evans, Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev before falling to Casper Ruud. All good players, and Norrie thought he was so consistent.

Last year, he was OK, but he could not beat many of the top players. However, he continued to work a lot and this season, he has won 47 wins, on the hardcourts, on the clay and the grass. He knows that it took him a few more years, because before he started at the ATP, he went to college, at  Texas Christian University. Then in 2016, it was time to play against all the big boys.

But to win at Indian Weeks, he was impressive.

“It’s a little bit surprising. Starting the tournament, you’re a little bit nervous, you’re not really sure, not used to the conditions,” Norrie said. “You’re not feeling good. I had a couple of tough matches early on, especially against Bautista. I think that was my toughest match. Physically that match was rough.

“It just shows if you stick around in these big events, obviously it was pretty miraculous that all the top guys lost, and when I looked at the four semifinalists, Hmm, it’s a good opportunity here. Didn’t really want to get too far ahead of myself.

“In the past, a little bit with my experience, being on the tour four years now, I was very calm in the bigger moments and I played unbelievable, my best tennis, against Diego [Schwartzman] and Grigor [Dimitrov] in the quarters and semis. Those were huge matches for me.”