MEMPHIS, February 17, 2017
Nikoloz Basilashvili is playing the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster for the first time and the player from Georgia, who is currently ranked on a career high world number 67, is striking all the right notes. The 24-year-old scored a very impressive upset over the top seed Ivo Karlovic 7-6, 6-3 to secure his place in the quarterfinals for the second straight week.
Basilashvili landed 64 per cent of his first serve, winning 100 per cent of the points. He saved the only break point he faced, converting one his own two chances to prevail in 69 minutes.
Basilashvili will next take on Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden, who survived a mid-match revival from last year’s finalist Taylor Fritz to reach the quarterfinals 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. For Ebden, who has been plagued with injuries, this was his first quarterfinal at a Tour level since Atlanta in 2012.
“I think I’m playing in general really well, the last couple of tournaments,” Basilashvili said. “Coming here I was in really good shape physically and mentally as well. Beating a player like Karlovic is fantastic for me and gives me confidence for the next match. I played him twice and practiced with him a couple of times … his serving is obviously unbelievable. I was able to stay focused the whole match.”
Fourth seed Steve Johnson had quite a fight on his hands playing compatriot Tim Smyczek, who cruised through the first set before Johnson started to steady the ship. Johnson explained that Smyczek was “doing all he needed to” and was striking the ball cleanly. After the one hour and 57 minutes encounter, Johnson said: “I had to go to plan B, C, D and E.”
The 27-year-old from California will next face Mikhail Kukushkin, who ended the run of Darian King from Barbados 6-3, 6-0 in the final result of the day.
Next Up Quaterfinals
Coming up on day five will be the quarterfinals. Johnson will take on Kukushkin for the fourth time in their careers and while Johnson has won two of their matches, it was the Kazakh who won their last meeting in Miami in 2015. Basilashvili is trying to reach his second semifinal in as many weeks on the ATP World Tour and he comes up against Ebden for the first time.
Second seed John Isner plays Donald Young assuring at least one US-American will reach the final four. It has been just short of three years since the pair last played; that occasion, in Miami, was the only time Young has won a set – Isner leads their series 3-0. The Stadium Court session will end with US-American Ryan Harrison, who has shown solid form of late, facing Damir Dzumhur for the first time.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Steve Johnson – “I always felt I can win a title a title, now I believe I can win a title, my level of belief is higher. You know, I want the best for the Americans, except when I play them.”
ACTIVITY OF THE DAY: Phil Chamberlain who came to Memphis in 1973 from Perth, Australia and who built a life and career in this city was inducted into the Memphis Open Hall of Fame. Chamberlain graduated from the University of Memphis and has fulfilled roles as player, head tennis coach, and tournament director of the Memphis Open. Phil and his wife Ginger have three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He was inducted into the Memphis State Hall of Fame in 1988 and he USTA Tennessee Hall of Fame in 2001.