Tennis: Basilashvili upsets second seed Tsitsipas at Indian Wells, Zverev also ousted

Nikoloz Basilashvili (left) shake hands with Stefanos Tsitsipas at the net after their quarterfinal match in Indian Wells, on Oct 15, 2021.
Nikoloz Basilashvili (left) shake hands with Stefanos Tsitsipas at the net after their quarterfinal match in Indian Wells, on Oct 15, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

INDIAN WELLS, United States (AFP) - World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas was ousted in the quarter-finals at the ATP Indian Wells Masters on Friday (Oct 15), falling 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to the 29th seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili, who recorded one of his biggest career wins.

Olympic gold medallist and Alexander also crashed out, to American Taylor Fritz, who survived two match points to come from behind and eliminate the third seed 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

The exits of Zverev and Tsitsipas means Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who is seeded 21st, is the highest seed left in the final four.

Georgia's Basilashvili beat Tsitsipas for the first time in three career meetings and recorded his first win over a world number three player.

He defeated Roger Federer en route to the Doha title in March, when the Swiss great was playing just his second match since a 13-month injury absence.

Leading up to Indian Wells, Basilashvili said he had been working on polishing his serve.

"I am not surprised. I have been playing good tennis for a long time especially in practices," he said. "I just didn't have the kind of first serve. It was missing. I had big minus in my serve.

"I improved my serve a lot lately. That's why I'm in the semis now." 

The semi-finals are now set with 31st seeded Fritz facing Basilashvili and Norrie going up against 23rd seeded Grigor Dimitrov for a spot in Sunday’s championship match at the Tennis Garden in the California desert.

Basilashvili had never won a round in Indian Wells until this year's tournament.

Tsitsipas, of Greece, blasted 10 aces but made two double faults and was undone by unforced errors in the two hour, 10 minute match on the main stadium.

Basilashvili jumped out to early leads by breaking Tsitsipas in the opening games of the first and third sets. He won four of the final five games in the third and clinched the match when Tsitsipas blasted a backhand wide.

"I was under stress. My energy level was going up and down but I am happy with the way it ended and I kept my energy level up," said Basilashvili, the son of a Georgian national ballet dancer.

"At the end I was really tired but I was physically able to stay on the court." Besides saving a match point to beat Federer on the way to the title in Doha, Basilashvili also won his fifth career title in Munich in May.

After Friday's win, Basilashvili, said beating his hero Federer had been a springboard.

"My win against Roger meant a lot to me because he was my idol," Basilashvili said. "Roger's win was very important in my career. Beating Stefanos today was as well, a really, really important match."