Alexander Zverev. (Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)
American Taylor Fritz survived two match points to come back from behind and eliminate third seed Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) in the ATP Indian quarterfinal Wells Masters Friday.
Fritz lost the first set and was down 5-2 in the third when he flipped a switch and rallied to oust Zverev, who fell shortly after second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was shown to the gate by Nikoloz Basilashvili.
The exits of Zverev and Tsitsipas mean Britain’s Cameron Norrie, ranked 21st, is the remaining seed in the bottom four.
The semi-finals are now set with 31st seeded Fritz facing Basilashvili and Norrie against 23rd seeded Grigor Dimitrov for a spot in Sunday’s championship game at Tennis Garden in the California desert.
Germany’s Zverev took a big lead in the final set and looked to be heading for victory before starting to fight powerfully on his second serve.
He pulled an ace at 135 mph to reach the match point, but immediately double faulted and Fritz won the next point to win the match and reduce the lead to 5-4.
Crowd favorite Fritz dominated the third set tiebreaker, winning the match with a cross forehand winner.
It was only Zverev’s second loss since losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon. Zverev is 20-2 on that stretch.
Tsitsipas lost 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to 29th seed Basilashvili, who recorded one of his biggest career wins.
Georgian Basilashvili defeated Tsitsipas for the first time in three career meetings and recorded his first victory against a world number three.
He beat Roger Federer on his way to the Doha title in March, as the Swiss tall played only his second game in a 13-month absence due to injury.
Prior to Indian Wells, Basilashvili said he was working on fine-tuning his service.
“I’m not surprised. I’ve been playing good tennis for a long time, especially in training,” he said. “I just didn’t have the kind of first serve. It was lacking. I had a big minus in my serve.
“I’ve improved my serve a lot lately. That’s why I’m in the semi-finals now.”
Basilashvili had never won a round at Indian Wells until this year’s tournament.
Tsitsipas of Greece had 10 aces but committed two double faults and was defeated by unforced errors in the two hour and 10 minute game at the main stadium.
Basilashvili quickly took the lead, breaking Tsitsipas in the opening matches of the first and third sets. He won four of the last five games in the third and won the game when Tsitsipas landed a wide backhand.
“I was stressed. My energy level was going up and down but I’m happy with how it ended and I kept my energy level up,” said Basilashvili, the son of a dancer from Georgian national ballet. “In the end I was really tired but I was physically able to stay on the pitch.”
As well as saving a match point to beat Federer on the title path in Doha, Basilashvili also won his fifth career title in Munich in May.
After Friday’s victory, Basilashvili said beating his hero Federer was a stepping stone.
“My victory against Roger meant a lot to me because he was my idol,” Basilashvili said. “Roger’s victory was very important in my career. Beating Stefanos today was also a really very important game.”
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x29) bt Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x2) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
Taylor Fritz (USA x31) bt Alexander Zverev (GER x3) 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3)
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x27) with Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x24) 3-6, 6-3, 7-5
Paula Badosa (ESP x21) bt Ons Jabeur (TUN x12) 6-3, 6-3