Unsung Heroes Defy The Odds (written by Emre Saridogan)
Ever heard of Nikoloz Basilashvili? If you have, congratulations on being an ardent follower of tennis. If not, you are forgiven. The Georgian is currently ranked 81 in the world (but will move up to 35) and is hardly the man you’d expect to win an ATP 500 event. However, Basilashvili stunned defending champion Leonardo Mayer 6-4 0-6 7-5 to make a huge leap forward in his career.
This was Basilashvili’s first ATP title, and he did it the hard way, coming back from 5-3 down in the final set to triumph. He will become the highest ranked Georgian player in tennis history. His achievement was made even more remarkable by the fact that he also had to come through qualifying, having to win 7 consecutive matches to earn his final victory, as many as is needed to win a Grand Slam.
“What a match today. I’m extremely tired, I played seven matches. I literally gave, in every match, my heart,” said a thrilled Basilashvili on court. “I’m pretty sure every player worked so hard for this, but it’s an unbelievable moment for me.” Tournament director and former Wimbledon champion Micheal Stich had words of praise for Basilashvili, saying “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.”
Elsewhere there was another surprise winner in Gstaad, with Matteo Berrettini beating hot favourite and number two seed Roberto Bautista Agut to win his first ever ATP level title, overcoming the Spaniard 7-6 6-4. Berrettini made the week doubly special by also winning the doubles, becoming the second man in two years to do so. Alexander Zverev achieved the same feat last year in Montpellier.