Nikoloz Basilashvili Puts 'Small Country' Georgia On The Map With Historic Run To Indian Wells Final - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

Nikoloz Basilashvili Puts ‘Small Country’ Georgia On The Map With Historic Run To Indian Wells Final

The 29-year-old is a win away from the biggest title of his career at the age of 29.

Avatar

Published

on

Image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN/

Prior to the start of the BNP Paribas Open Nikoloz Basilashvili had never progressed beyond the fourth round of a Masters 1000 tournament in 32 attempts.

 

However, in the Californian desert the Georgian has enjoyed a fairytale run to the final with wins over Karen Khachanov followed by a shock victory against second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. In his latest match, Basilashvili took on home favourite Taylor Fritz, whom he ousted 7-6(5), 6-3, in what was a relatively close encounter. The world No.36 failed to convert set points whilst leading 5-4 and 6-5 in the opening set before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the second frame it was a single break in his favour which guided him to the finish line.

“I’m really happy. I think I played pretty good tennis. In my opinion, Taylor made me play a lot of balls. I had to actually play very good tennis from the baseline to beat him,” said Basilashvili who hit a total of 26 winners during the match.

The 29-year-old has been ranked as high as 16th in the world back in 2019 but has since fallen down to a current position of 36th. This season he has already won two ATP 250 titles in Doha and Munich. It was in Doha where he defeated Roger Federer, who was playing his first match following an injury break.

Despite those successes, Indian Wells is Basilashvili’s biggest achievement to date. Ironically, he had never won a main draw match at the tournament until this year. Now he is a win away from becoming the first player from his country to claim a Masters 1000 title.

“I’m super happy I can achieve something like this, especially (from) a country like Georgia, a very small country. Tennis is not that popular. I made my way. I passed really tough roads to get to here, so it means a lot,” he reflected.

Basilashvili says he had to work hard to get where he is now due to where he came from. Working his way up through the lower level tournaments without a sponsor or wildcard’s to back him up. He didn’t break into the world’s top 100 until the age of 23 and he won his first Tour title at 26. Basilashvili has also scored six wins over top 10 players in his career but 2021 is the first season where he has managed to record multiple wins.

“I made my way, I passed very difficult times. I had to gain a lot of experience from playing futures, then playing challengers, move on from challengers and then to ATP tournaments,” he said.
“I knew I would never play really good tennis at a young age because I needed this experience. I never had an opportunity to get wild cards. I did not have any support from my country because obviously tennis is not popular there.’
“As well as the financial side, I never had a kind of sponsor. I knew I had to pass those roads to get to here match by match gaining experience as well as playing quarterfinals, semifinals. This is all experience.’
“I’m happy where I am right now. I am calculating how I’m playing. I calculated that I could play good tennis late in my career, at a late age.”

Standing in the way of his first Masters 1000 title will be Cameron Norrie who is also through to the biggest final of his career to date and will pose a stern challenge. The Brit has already played five Tour finals this year, winning his first title in Mexico. Norrie defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4, in his semi-final match.

He’s playing very good at this tournament. He had previously had really good weeks. I will learn him (his match) today, and come up with a plan for tomorrow,” Basilashvili said of his upcoming opponent.
“But overall he’s not so nice to play against from the baseline. He’s been playing really, really smart and very good tennis. I’m looking forward to it. If I can play my game and be relaxed, I think I can play well.”

The winner of Sunday’s final will be the first man ranked outside of the world’s top 25 to do so since Ivan Ljubicic in 2010.

ATP

Wimbledon: Quarter-Finalist Cristian Garin loves The Event But Not So much The Surface

The South American reacts to reaching his first major quarter-final.

Avatar

Published

on

Cristian Garin (CHI) - Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

Just over a week ago, Cristian Gain admitted that he was ‘upset’ when he saw his draw for Wimbledon this year. 

 

The world No.43 was set to take on the formidable Matteo Berrettini in the first round who has won two grass-court titles in a row in recent weeks. However, the Italian was forced to withdraw after testing positive for COVID-19. Instead, his opponent was the much lower-ranked Elias Ymer from Sweden who he defeated in straight sets. Since then, Garin hasn’t looked back.

On Monday at The All England Club, he staged an audacious comeback to defeat Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(10-6). Not only did Garin bounce back from two sets down, he also saved two match points in the process. Becoming the first player from his country to reach the last eight of the tournament since Fernando Gonzalez in 2005 and only the fourth in history to do so. 

“It is something very special for me. Wimbledon is my favorite tournament. Every time that I play this tournament is something special I feel,” said Garin.
“To be in the quarterfinals is a dream. I will try to enjoy it. I will try to give my best in the next round.”

Ironically Garin comes from a country where there are no grass courts. This year is his fifth appearance at Wimbledon and it was at the event where he made his Grand Slam debut back in 2017. However, like many other South Americans, clay is still his preferred surface.

“I said Wimbledon is my favorite tournament, not my favorite surface,” he jokes. 
“I think the grass is very fun for me. I have to change a little bit the way that I play. I think here on this surface you have to be aggressive.

Garin is one of only five ATP players from Chile currently ranked in the world’s top 500. Since April he has been coached by Pepe Vendrell who previously worked as a mentor to Roberto Bautista Agut and served as Spain’s captain in the ATP Cup. 

The next test for Garin will be a showdown against the formidable Nick Kyrgios who defeated Brandon Nakashima in his fourth round match.

“He is for me one of the guys that I like to watch. He’s very good for tennis,” he said of Kyrgios.
“In these rounds, you play the best. For me, Nick is obviously one of the best on grass.”

Continue Reading

ATP

Last Brit Standing Cameron Norrie Urges Fans ‘To Get Behind Him’ At Wimbledon

The Brit says he is feeling more comfortable on the Tour.

Avatar

Published

on

Cameron Norrie (GBR) - Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Cameron Norrie had the pressure of being the British No.1 at Wimbledon this year and now even more eyes will be on him following his milestone win. 

 

The world No.12 defeated Tommy Paul 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, in his fourth round match on Sunday to reach the last eight of a major for the first time at the age of 26. In doing so he remains the only home player left in the singles draw of either men’s or women’s draws. Heather Watson lost her last 16 match earlier in the day to Jule Niemeier 6-2, 6-4.

“To play the way I did and to handle the occasion, I felt really comfortable the way I was hitting the ball this morning. Definitely more comfortable than my other matches.” Said Norrie.
“It was good to get through that one in the fashion that I did. I was up the whole match, which definitely helped.”

Norrie’s run is the best by a British man at The All England Club since Andy Murray back in 2017. He is coached on the Tour by Facundo Lugones who first got acquainted with him at college in America. The two were teammates with Lugones being a senior and Norrie a freshman. Last year he achieved a win-loss record of 52-25 and won the biggest title of his career in Indian Wells.

A solid top 20 player on the Tour, Norrie’s popularity back home is steadily increasing. Even more so in recent days due to Wimbledon. Now he is the last Brit standing there is added pressure but he is taking it all in his stride.

“I’m the last one standing. But I think it’s even more reason for everyone to get behind me,” he said. “Even the atmosphere was great today and definitely helped me get over the line there. Especially on that last game, I was obviously pretty nervous. I was serving for my first quarterfinal of a slam. I wanted to get it done there. They definitely helped me a lot.”

Norrie will be hoping the crowd will out in full force for his upcoming clash with former top 10 player David Goffin who defeated Francis Tiafoe in five sets. Goffin has reached the quarter-finals of a major on three previous occasions, including Wimbledon three years ago.

“He’s a very experienced player. He really likes the grass. He’s played a lot of big matches. It’s going to be tough,” Norrie previewed.
“He’s a great competitor, a really good athlete. He’s got a very complete game. He must be playing very well, so it’s going to be a tricky one.’
“One thing for sure, I know that I’m going to get into a lot of rallies with him. He’s not going to come and serve me off the court, which is good. It’s going to be another physical match, which is great for me.”
“I’m looking forward to competing. It’s going to be another huge challenge.”

The only time Norrie played Goffin was last year in Barcelona when Goffin was forced to retire from their match in the second set. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Roger Federer Hopes To Play One Last Wimbledon As Icons Mark Center Court Anniversary

The Swiss Maestro said it is ‘great to be back’ after attending a special centenary event alongside other greats of the sport.

Avatar

Published

on

Image via https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/

On the 100th anniversary of Center Court, a special celebration took place on Sunday that saw the return of Roger Federer.

Past and present champions congregated on the premier court during a special 30-minute presentation with a couple of notable absences. Nine-time winner Martina Navratilova and Pete Sampras were absent. Each walking on one by one, the biggest cheer occurred when it was Federer’s turn to take to the stage.

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a professional match since his quarter-final loss at SW19 12 months ago due to knee surgery. He has already outlined his plans to return to action later this season at the Laver Cup and Swiss indoors. Speaking on court, Federer said he hopes to play at Wimbledon again as he unexpectedly hints at retiring in the near future. 

 

“I’ve been lucky to play a lot of matches here. Different type of role, but it’s great to be here. This court has given me my biggest moments,” said Federer.
“I hope I can come back one more time.”
“I’ve missed it here. I knew walking out here last year, it was going to be a tough year ahead. I maybe didn’t think it was going to take this long to come back – the knee has been rough on me.
“It’s been a good year regardless of tennis. We’re happy at home. I didn’t know if I should make the trip but I’m happy standing here right now.”


Federer is the only man in history to have ever won the Wimbledon title eight times and was undefeated between 2003-2007. 

One player closing in on that record is Novak Djokovic who is seeking to win his seventh title this year. Speaking about Center Court, the Serbian said the venue has a special place in his heart that dates back to his childhood.

“This court has been truly special from my childhood and the first image of tennis I’ve seen when I was four or five-years-old I saw Pete Sampras winning his first Wimbledon,” said Djokovic.
“This is where dreams come true and I was blessed in 2011, probably the highlight of my career, to win the tournament and so when I step out on this court I relive these memories. Truly an honor.”

As for the female champions of the tournament, Venus Williams, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber and Margaret Court were all in attendance. So was Billie Jean King who is the co-founder of the WTA Tour and has won all three Wimbledon events on multiple occasions (singles – 6, doubles – 10, and mixed doubles – 4). 

“I played my very first match at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old. We started late so I had two days on this court. It was magical and wonderful and I knew I belonged here,” said King.
“I love history and I love the fact we have so many people here. Martina [Navratilova] could not be with us and she won nine women’s singles so I’d just like to say I’m sorry she can’t be here.”

In 1922 Center court was officially opened for the first time after taking just nine months to construct. At the time it was the largest-ever reinforced concrete structure. The addition of a roof didn’t occur until 2009.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending