Read & Watch: Basilashvili Stuns Del Potro To Lift Beijing Trophy
Three months ago, Nikoloz Basilashvili had never won an ATP World Tour title after runner-up finishes in his previous two championship match appearances. But, on Sunday, the Georgian captured his second ATP World Tour 500 title of the season, upsetting top seed Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-4 at the China Open.
The Hamburg champion extended his streak to 10 consecutive sets won in Beijing after dropping his opening set of the tournament against Jack Sock. Basilashvili dominated baseline rallies with depth and power to stun Del Potro, the US Open finalist. The Georgian saved all seven break points he faced and withstood 11 aces from his opponent to confirm victory in one hour and 39 minutes.
"I was in a really good shape coming up to this tournament," said Basilashvili. "I'm really feeling well on court. Playing against Juan, he was sick today for sure, I could see that. But he put me in really tough situations. I needed to really work it, to work hard to win the points. I really enjoyed this match. To win a title here in Beijing means a lot, it's one of the best tournaments."
Basilashvili, who became the first Georgian to reach the US Open fourth round last month, improves to 27-25 this season. The 26-year-old also levels his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Del Potro at 1-1, having fallen in a tight three-set encounter in their only previous meeting in Shanghai last year.
"I've been having a really good season this year, especially [in the] past three or four months," said Basilashvili. "I'm playing very good... I'm feeling really well on the court lately. A lot of respect to my coach Jan, he's helping me a lot. With him, we can see a big difference."
Del Potro was aiming to cap a memorable week in Beijing with his third title of the season and 23rd overall crown at tour-level. Following his second round victory, Del Potro became the fourth man to book his place at the Nitto ATP Finals in London. Del Potro will join Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at The 02 from 11-18 November.
"I gave all my effort to play and gave a big effort to finish the match. Basilashvili played so good, he deserves to hold the trophy and he is a very good champion," said Del Potro in the on-court trophy ceremony.
Basilashvili earned the first break of the match in the third game, with consistent deep returns extracting errors from his opponent. The Georgian could have doubled his advantage on numerous occasions, with multiple break-point opportunities passing him by, but defended his lead well to preserve his advantage and serve for the set at 5-4.
Del Potro had no answer to the unseeded Georgian's powerful forehand after gaining a 30/0 lead as Basilashvili served for the opening set. Basilashvili increased his aggression, finding success on his forehand side to stride into a one-set lead.
"I had a really good game plan, first of all. Second, he was sick, but in some moments he was playing really good," said Basilashvili. "He put me in really tough moments where he had seven break points. I managed to stay inside the game and managed to save those break points. In the crucial moments, I think I performed very well today. I think that was the key."
With a ripped cross-court forehand return winner, Basilashvili earned himself the first break point of the second set in the seventh game. But Del Potro, with bravery, rushed his opponent with a foray into the net to avoid the break and quickly applied pressure on his opponent in the following game.
But, despite holding three break points, Del Potro was unable to convert as Basilashvili connected on multiple backhands to escape with a service hold. From there, the Georgian charged to victory. Basilashvili broke serve to 15 in the following game and, after saving two break points in a tense 10th game, converted his third championship point with a driven backhand volley.
"I had my chances in the first set and then in the second. But I wasn't able to play with that fire that I have in all my matches," said Del Potro. "Nikoloz played smart points in the important moments. He didn't miss any easy balls in that moment. I think he deserves to win because I couldn't play at my best level."
Basilashvili receives 500 ATP Ranking points and collects $733,320 in prize money for lifting the trophy. Del Potro gains 300 ATP Ranking points and receives $359,510.