The German Open in Hamburg has occasionally been a tournament for first time success. Once more that proved to be the case in a week of first-time winners on both the ATP and WTA tour. Earlier in Gstaad, Matteo Berrettini of Italy captured his maiden ATP title without dropping a service game or set all week. Qiang Wang won a first WTA title in China, and 17-year-old Serbian Olga Danilovic became the first tour-level champion born this millennium in both men’s and women’s, in a dramatic three setter in the Moscow River Cup.
Back in Hamburg, Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili shortly joined that lot with his very own dramatic turnaround, overcoming 6-0 second set loss to beat defending German Open champion Leonardo Mayer, and capture his very first ATP career title.
The fact that the man from Georgia had to go through qualifying to get into the main draw made his triumph the more impressive. Mayer was bidding to win his third title on the clay courts of German Open, and in an amotional post match interview, was applauded for his efforts. The Argentine was broken early in the first set and resonated to playing catch up through the opening set. Basilishavili was solid in serving and he barely faced any break points on his serve, eventually seeing out the set 6-4. The tables were turned in the second set. Mayer served a quick bagel. Incidentally, this was the second time it happened to the Georgian after losing the second set in his semifinal against Nicolas Jarry 6-0 in what was a remarkable roller coaster.
Both players continually held serve in the third set. Serving to level the match at 4-3, Basilashvili found himself facing a break point when the Argentine found a stunning backhand down the line winner. Surprisingly, Mayer failed to capitalize and netted on the next point. The Georgian was off the hook. He held serve and made his move at 5-5. In one of the many lengthy exchanges, Basilishavili, who is projected to rise as high as inside the top 40, worked his opponent when his deep inside-in forehand stretched Mayer to hit long. The 26 year old celebrated the point with a mute chest pump and a stare to his team. In what was his biggest service game of his career, a double fault to open proceedings was a symbolic of the struggle it took to get there. He however composed himself and served for his 1st ever ATP career title.
Basilashvili will pocket 350,000 Euros for his winning run, in what had been a tumultuous season. He struggled for match wins, and his last quarter finals appearance was back in April in the Hungarian Open. His ranking of No.81 meant he was not eligible for automatic entry into the main draw. But once he set foot in it, he knocked out established clay courters like Pablo Cuevas and Pablo Carreno Busta.
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