Georgian History! Basilashvili Lifts Maiden Title In Hamburg
Nikoloz Basilashvili trailed 3-5 in the third set of his final-round qualifying match in Hamburg last Sunday. On a three-match tour-level losing streak, it appeared the 26-year-old would fall short of even playing in the main draw at the German Tennis Championships 2018 presented by Kampmann. But that did not stop the World No. 81 from making national history.
Basilashvili defeated two-time Hamburg titlist Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 0-6, 7-5 on Sunday to become the first Georgian to win an ATP World Tour title.
“What a match today. I’m extremely tired, I played seven matches. I literally gave, in every match, my heart,” Basilashvili said on court after the victory. “I’m pretty sure every player worked so hard for this, but it’s an unbelievable moment for me.”
The third time proved the charm for Basilashvili, who failed to win a set in his first two tour-level championship-match appearances in Kitzbuhel two years ago (l. to Lorenzi) and Memphis last season (l. to Harrison). Thanks to the 250 points he earns, will climb 46 spots in the ATP Rankings to No. 35, the highest placement of any Georgian in history. Irakli Labadze previously held the best mark of World No. 42.
“I think you had a great, incredible tournament,” tournament director and Class of 2018 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Michael Stich told Basilashvili after his victory. “I think it just shows that you have a lot of determination, a lot of mental will to play seven matches throughout this week and you played great tennis every single match you played.”
Basilashvili is the fourth qualifier to triumph on the ATP World Tour this season, joining Daniil Medvedev (Sydney), Mirza Basic (Sofia) and Roberto Carballes Baena (Quito). Marco Cecchinato claimed his maiden title in Budapest as a lucky loser.
The last time four qualifiers finished in the winners' circle in the same year was in 1995 (Rios, Lapentti, Doumbia, Dewulf). Basilashvili is the first winner at the 500-level to come through qualifying since Philipp Petzschner in Vienna 10 years ago.
But for a while, it appeared he would fall short for the third time in three finals. After using his relentless offence to hit Mayer off the court in the first set, the Argentine steadied his ship in the second set, breaking three times and winning 67 per cent of return points to force a decider. Neither player faced break point until 5-5, when Basilashvili's firepower proved too much to handle for Mayer, hitting a massive inside-in forehand to force an error from the World No. 36.
The Georgian was made to wait for his moment of glory, saving break point as he served for the title. But he was not to be denied, as Mayer wildly missed an aggressive forehand on the match's final point.
Mayer was trying to become just the second player to lift three or more ATP World Tour titles in the same city without claiming a trophy anywhere else. Victor Estrella Burgos, who was victorious from 2015-17 in Quito, remains the only player to do so at tour-level.
Did You Know?
Alex Metreveli, who claimed five tour-level titles in his career, competed under the Russian flag. But Metreveli was born in the same city as Basilashvili: Tbilisi, Georgia.