First-Time Winner Spotlight: Nikoloz Basilashvili
Nikoloz Basilashvili made Georgian history on Sunday, becoming the first player from his country to clinch an ATP World Tour title by winning the German Tennis Championships 2018 presented by Kampmann. Thanks to the triumph, he will also become the highest-placed Georgian in the history of the ATP Rankings, moving up to No. 35 on Monday. Irakli Labadze climbed as high as No. 42.
After the victory, Basilashvili spoke to ATPWorldTour.com:
How does it feel to be holding your first ATP World Tour singles trophy?
It’s unbelievable to win the title. I’d been to a final two times, but to win a title is something else. Also to win a 500-level title, it’s unbelievably big for me. It means everything. It’s what I’ve been training and working for.
Was winning an ATP World Tour singles title something you always wanted to achieve when you decided to become a tennis player?
When I was young, I definitely didn’t know what an ATP title was. But when I moved to professional tennis, yes. My goal was to win a title and for me, to win any ATP title, it takes a lot of effort and I’m really satisfied.
What does it mean to win a title on the ATP World Tour representing Georgia?
It's unbelievable, of course. It means so much to be the only player from Georgia to win an ATP title. It’s something special, for sure.
It took you a 7-5 third-set victory against Jurgen Melzer in qualifying just to reach the main draw. At what point did you begin to think you could lift the title?
Coming into this tournament, I was really, really focused. I did not even see the draw when it came out. When I beat Melzer, he was serving for the match, and I had a feeling I could go far in this tournament. I don’t know why. But I was really focused the whole week and my routine was a bit different from the other times. Also working with Jan De Witt, it helped me a lot. He put me on the right route, so obviously it was a really good week.
Speaking of your new coach, what have you been working on to help your game since you started the partnership?
It’s small things on which we’ve been working. But I needed those small things a lot. We started working two months ago step by step, but most importantly I’m enjoying it, I’m listening to him and believing what he says, so let’s see how it’s going to be in the future.
What was it like walking on the court knowing you had lost in your first two finals and how did you overcome any thoughts lingering from those two matches?
Today I think I played one of my worst matches of the tournament, I would say. I was unbelievably tight. I think I got lucky today. The chances I had, I used them today and I think if it was a different round, first or second round, I would play differently and much more relaxed. Most important is that this win, getting the title, will help me a lot to get confidence and to have a lot of experience if I’m playing another final, something like that.
Who was your idol growing up and how did they motivate you in your tennis journey?
My idols are everybody who is in the Top 10, because I think those guys are warriors. Whoever achieves the Top 10, he is my idol and I’m trying to be like him. I respect the guys so much. I think to be in the Top 10, it takes so much effort and so much focus. To say exactly who my idol was, obviously Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and so many other players, past players who are not playing at this moment. But those four players have been my idols for sure.
Is there anybody that you would like to acknowledge or thank for getting you to this milestone in your career?
My father put inside me that, even though we haven’t been working for four years, that I could be a good player. That is the key, that inside me I think I could be a good player. But I think I’ve been playing good tennis, I just needed somehow to get everything together. There was something that was always missing. So far, I’ve got everything together now. I can control my emotions much better, which I think was my big minus. I think that was the most important thing.
Aside from tennis what are your favourite interests and hobbies?
I have a lot of interests, but here during the tournaments I have nothing. Tennis is such a tough sport, all week you need to stay focused. If you lose early, you need to stay focused to get ready for the next tournament. But hobbies, I’m interested in so many things. If I start saying now, I can’t finish. But my main hobbies are music, I really like aviation, I like cooking, a lot of different things.