Until 2018, 26-year-old Nikoloz Basilashvili had yet to win an ATP title. On Sunday, Basilashvili played like a seasoned champion when he defeated Juan Martin del Potro, 6-4, 6-4 in Beijing for his second ATP 500 title of the last three months.
"In general I really enjoyed this match. To win title here in Beijing means a lot. It's one of the best tournaments here, and very tough tournament," Basilashvili said. "I'm feeling really well. I've been having a really good season this year, especially last four, three months."
The Georgian needed just over an hour and a half to dismiss the world No. 4 for his first-ever victory over a Top 5 player.
Basilashvili’s road to the title started with a three-set win over No. 6 seed Jack Sock. He then defeated Fernando Verdasco in straight sets and went on to capture a decisive victory over Malek Jaziri, an alternate who upset No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev the round prior.
In the semifinals, Basilashvili proved steady for a 7-6 (6), 6-4 win over No. 5 seed Kyle Edmund, which included this amazing return in the first-set tiebreak:
Basilashvili’s only prior title came this July, in Hamburg, where he defeated Leonardo Mayer to lift his first ATP trophy. Before beating Del Potro, the biggest upset of Basilashvili's career came in 2017, when he defeated then-No. 8 Dominic Thiem in straight sets in Sofia.
"In tennis I think confidence and experience is very important, like in any other sport," Basilashvili said. "I think in tennis, it's very, very important. So definitely winning Hamburg, here I was experienced to win the finals on the ATP 500. That helped me a lot. I was much more relaxed."
This week, Basilashvili's winning momentum has carried over into the Shanghai, where he handily defeated Denis Shapovalov on Tuesday, setting up a second-round match with Zverev.
Thanks to his recent success, Basilashvili is up to a career-high ranking of No. 23.