Friday, October 15, 2021 - Nikoloz Basilashvili shakes hands with Stefanos Tsitsipas after their quarterfinals match on day 12 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili is through to his maiden Masters 1000 semifinal, upsetting No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas at the BNP Paribas Open, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in Friday’s first men’s singles quarterfinal.
“I always thought that here the conditions don’t suit my game,” admitted the No. 29, who has never been able to score a win in three previous main-draw appearences at this event. “This year? I don’t know. I think I’m just playing good.”
Well, that’s an understatement.
Basilashvili came out of the gates firing against Tsitsipas, against whom he owned a 0-2 record but had pushed hard in those previous two encounters. He sprinted to a double break lead in the blink of an eye as Tsitsipas, who has struggled with a cold this week in the Palm Desert, appeared to be a step slow.
Though the Greek was able to earn one of the breaks back, a near-perfect game from Basilashvili sealed the first set for the Georgian, striking two volcanic groundstroke winners – one off the forehand and one off the backhand – that rocketed into the corners of the court to give him the one-set lead.
Tsitsipas was able to tap into a higher level in the second set. Unwilling to be brushed aside against a player he had never lost to before, the World No. 3 upped his energy, sprinting to the net to finish points off with sublime volleys and defending with fortitude as his lemon-meringue locks bounced with each step in the midday desert sun.
After rebounding to win the second set 6-2, Tsitsipas got off to a lethargic start in the third, dropping serve in the opening game as his normally clairvoyant focus wavered. Basilashvili, with his signature ice-cold demeanour contrasting the firepower of his ball striking, kept his composure though a few games later after getting broken back.
Making one last surge for a break in the ever-crucial seventh game of the set, the Georgian was rewarded and moved ahead to 5-3, a game away from his first win over a Top 3 player. Though Tsitsipas, the Top 3 player in question, would hold to force Basilashvili to serve for it – the latter was up to the task, closing out the win after two hours and 11 minutes of dramatic tennis on Stadium 1.