Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili had to to step up beat American Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 on Saturday to book his spot in the ATP Indian Wells Masters, where he will play another outsider, Britain’s Cam Norrie.
Against local crowd favourite Fritz, Basilashvili saved three set points to take the opening set in a tiebreaker, a set that took over an hour to complete.
“It is an unbelievable feeling,” Basilashvili said.
“I am super happy. I was nervous and stressed. I got very tight but I just tried to focus on the game.”
The second set took a little less, about 40 minutes, as Basilashvili broke Fritz to go 4-2 up.
Then at 5-3, he took the tie on his fourth match point.
“When you focus the stress goes away. I know I can play good tennis I just have to not get too tight,” he said.
Fritz said that Basilashvili’s power made it difficult for him to convert his break chances.
“His backhand, he definitely hits harder than anybody on tour,” he said.
“The way that it comes through the court so hard and flat and deep, nothing you can really do. Usually I’m pretty good at fighting off the balls at the backhand. It was a bit tough today. He hit a lot of good backhand lines.”
Basilashvili is into his third ATP Tour final of the season, having won in Doha and Munich, and eighth in his career.