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Two shock results as Tsitsipas and Zverev fall

In what must be the most surprising turnup ever in Masters tennis history, both the two hot favourites for the BNP Pribas Open title have been eliminated from the running in consecutive quarter-final matches

First time in the quarter-finals and it is a big court and Stefanos is a super tough player. I had to keep my physical levels and energy levels in a really good shape because I knew mentally, I would be a little bit tight and stressed. Nikoloz Basilashvili

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexandr Zverev, respectively the second and third seeds were expected to meet in the next round with the winner going on to collect the Indian Wells Masters title on Sunday.

But whatever the form book showed, it was not to be as, for the first time in the history of Master events, the tournament won’t have a top 25 world ranked player contesting a place in the final with Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, a former world No.3 currently ranked 28 and Britain’s Cameron Norrie, the 21st seed ranked 26 already ensconced in the last four after Thursday’s play.

The semi-final line-up was completed Friday with Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, the 29th seed world ranked 36, defeating Tsitsipas 6-4 2-6 6-4 and the 31st seeded American, Taylor Fritz ranked at 39, delighting the home crowd with his 4-6 6-3 7-6(3) victory over Zverev.

Surprisingly Tsitsipas got off to a slow start as Basilashvili came out in an aggressive mood to capture the first set allowing the Greek eight winners to his 14.

Tsitsipas however, recovered well in the second set to get himself back on course for a tilt at his second Masters title but just when it looked as if he was managing to repeat the comeback wins of his the previous rounds, the big hitting Georgian snatched the initiative by breaking him in the opening game of the decider.

Basilashvili maintained that initiative throughout the third to cause the first upset of the day with some superb shots for the biggest win of his career.

“I have played really great matches this tournament,” Basilashvili said later on reaching his first Master’s semi-final. “I was not that happy with how I played today but I was happy with how I managed my stress levels. First time in the quarter-finals and it is a big court and Stefanos is a super tough player. I had to keep my physical levels and energy levels in a really good shape because I knew mentally, I would be a little bit tight and stressed.”

The 29-year-old from Tbilisi is experiencing another great week in the desert having earlier in the year, won the Doha title in the Qatari desert.

“I have spent a lot of time working hard,” Basilashvili added. “I have been playing really well. For me to overcome stressful moments I am really happy. I also found it here that the conditions don’t suit my game because the balls fly a lot, but this year I am playing well.”


Taylor Fritz enjoys the moment of his best win

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The door was now open for Zverev to go on and collect his third Masters title of the year but again, surprisingly, his serve, which had been so secure over the summer, let him down at crucial moments and he joined Tsitsipas in the queue to collect his quarter-final cheque.

Two double faults when serving for the match, first at 5-3 and in the next game of the third, revitalised and brought Fritz back into the match and the opportunity to force a tie-break which the 23-year-old from San Diego, dominated to produce the second shock of the day while securing a place in the last four.

“Today was just not really my day, to be honest,” said the world number four and Olympic champion who had won 20 of his last 21 hard-court matches. “I was close to winning, but the level of tennis was just not quite there for me. Fritz played a great match. He deserves to be in the semi-finals. Today mentally is not easy for me.

“I have played well. But this one hurts because I knew that after Stefanos lost this morning, I was kind of the favourite to win this tournament, but my tennis wasn’t there.”

Fritz in turn, after reaching his first Masters semi-final, admitted: “I was really down and out but I found a way to put myself into it. I really wanted to make him have to close me out and I was able to get back into the match.

“I wanted to make him serve it out, so I just fought as hard as I could to hold that game,” Fritz added. “Then I got fortunate in his service game and from there I felt in control and felt really good under the pressure.

“I wanted to make him serve it out, so I just fought as hard as I could to hold that game,” Fritz added. “Then I got fortunate in his service game and from there I felt in control and felt really good under the pressure.

“It is amazing. Especially the way that match ended with such high emotions with the crowd. The crowd was amazing and it is a dream come true.”

Of the four survivors the most experienced is Dimitrov who, having himself swept the world No.2 aside in the fourth round, must surely be considered the new favourite to add to the eight trophies he has already won, including the 2017 ATP Finals trophy he picked up at the O2.





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