Friday, October 15, 2021 - Nikoloz Basilashvili and Stefanos Tsitsipas play in a quarterfinal match at Stadium 1 on day 12 of the 2021 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, CA. (Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open)
The 29th seed hadn’t won a main-draw match in Indian Wells ahead of this year’s tournament. He moves on to face British No. 1 Cameron Norrie in Sunday’s final.
“It means a lot, especially at Indian Wells. People call this Masters ‘the fifth Grand Slam.’ It’s a 128 draw, so to get through so many matches is very important,” said Basilashvili. “I’m at the top of my game right now, feeling my best.”
It marked their third meeting of the season, the first two coming in back-to-back weeks in March. Basilashvili claimed their semifinal encounter in Doha en route to the title, while Fritz returned the favor in Dubai in the second round.
The Armani-stamped Basilashvili would overcome eight aces and save three set points in the hour-long opener to prevail in a tiebreak.
“It’s my first time experiencing the semifinals, final,” said Basilashvili. “I’m a little bit tight. It’s natural. I know that’s going to happen. I just tried to get rid of it as much as I could. If I focus on my game, I can play good tennis.”
The 29-year-old Basilashvili would strike again in the second, up a set and a break at 4-2. Serving for the match at 5-3, he would finally make good on his fourth match point, closing it out in one hour and 41 minutes.
Fritz, seeded No. 31, was attempting to become the first American through to the Indian Wells final since John Isner in 2012. Andre Agassi remains the last American champion, in 2001 (def. Pete Sampras). Fritz, who stunned No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals, saving two match points, fell to 0-4 in semifinals in 2021.
Irakli Labadze was the last Georgian to advance to an ATP Masters 1000 semifinal (2004 Indian Wells). Basilashvili is into his third ATP Tour final of the season (2-0) and eighth in his career (5-2).