What’s at stake for Ryan Harrison, Nikoloz Basilashvili, Steve Johnson, Brian Baker, and Nikola Mektic with a finals win today?
Singles Final: Ryan Harrison vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili
-1st career singles title
-$114,595 in prize money
-250 ATP ranking points
-1st maiden title winner in Memphis since 2004 (Johansson)
-1st American winner in Memphis since 2011 (Roddick)
-14th American winner in Memphis overall
-projected career-high rank of 43
-1st player from Republic of Georgia to win an ATP title
-12th nation with player to win the Memphis Open
-projected career-high rank of 44
Doubles Final: Brian Baker/Nikola Mektic vs. Steve Johnson/Ryan Harrison
-$34,810 in prize money (per team)
-250 ATP ranking points
-1st doubles titles as a team
-1st career ATP title in singles or doubles
-Baker: projected career-high doubles rank of 46
-Mektic: projected career-high doubles rank of 56
-2nd career doubles title for Johnson, 3rd for Harrison
*Ryan Harrison is trying to become the first man since Sam Querrey in 2010 and the 5th overall to win singles and doubles titles in Memphis in the same year (Armitraj- 76, McEnroe- 80, Mayer- 81, Querrey- 10). That “double” hasn’t been accomplished on the ATP Tour since Lleyton Hewitt at Newport in 2014.
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Schedule of Activities: Sunday, February 18
12:00 – Doors Open
12:00-12:30 – Nikoloz Bashilashvili practice (Stadium Court)
12:30-1:00 – Brian Baker/Nikola Mektic practice (Stadium Court)
1:00-1:30 – Ryan Harrison/Steve Johnson practice (Stadium Court)
1:30-2:30 – University of Memphis exhibition (Stadium Court)
3:00 – Men’s Singles Final (Harrison vs. Basilashvili)
Followed by – Men’s Doubles final (Harrison/Johnson vs. Baker/Mektic)
Nikoloz Basilashvili is on fire. The 24-year-old from the Republic of Georgia won three matches last week in Sofia – including a Top 10 win over Dominic Thiem – before cruising into the finals of the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster without dropping a set.
In Saturday’s semifinal, Basilashvili was able to get past another in-form player, indoor specialist Mikhail Kukushkin, 7-6, 6-1. For the second day in a row, Basilashvili credited his fitness for the win.
“I think he was playing great but I played really well on the break points and the whole match I didn’t lose any energy,” Basilashvili said.
After taking a back-and-forth first set in a tiebreaker, Basilashvili faced break points early in the second set before breaking Kukushkin for a 2-0 lead.
“I started again with break points down but I’m not losing any concentration,” Basilashvili said. “If I’m down, I keep coming back.”
A relatively obscure player on Tour, Basilashvili was ranked 120 in the world one year ago but will rise to the doorstop of the Top 50 with his results in Memphis. In order to capture his first career title, however, American Ryan Harrison stands in the way. The two have never played before.
“Playing against an American in this country, the fans are going to be supporting him,” Basilashvili said. “It’s interesting but I’m going to go on court tomorrow and enjoy it.”
Through the Advantage St. Jude delivered by FedEx Ball Kid Program, 88 ball kids from the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster raised a total of $26,989 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In a wonderful surprise on Saturday, FedEx announced that they would match the amount raised by the ball kids, bringing the total donation to St. Jude up to $53,978.
The ball kids have done a remarkable job with special mention of Joshua Beer, a former patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, for raising the most at $7,398. Joshua, along with Kayla Klasmer, will be given a trip to New York City to ball kid at the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on March 6th.
Wiley Barron and Joseph Haynes, who raised the second and third highest amounts, respectively, have won trips to be ball kids at the BB&T Atlanta Open, July 22-30.
Thanks to FedEx for their generous contribution and to everyone involved in this difference-making program!
Donald Young had never before beaten John Isner in an ATP match. But he also had never had a warmup to Isner. At the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster, Young got his warmup as well as his win. Facing 6-foot-11 Reilly Opelka in the 2nd round, Young was able to get a read on the big man’s serve, something he said was key in his 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 win over Isner.
“I’ve never had a warmup to John before, to have that was actually good,” Young said. “To see the trajectory (of the serve) … it was the round right after. Different serves, different spins but (the angle) from where it was coming from was about the same.”
Young actually won 13 points less than Young in the match, but he captured the most important ones, particularly in the 1st and 3rd set tiebreakers. Young seemed as surprised as anyone that he was able to win both tiebreakers and reverse his history with Isner.
“I won a couple of key points, put my racquet on some serves and took care of my service points which was key,” Young said.
Young’s opponent in the semifinals will be another American, this time Ryan Harrison. Harrison has breathed life into his career of late, climbing back into the Top 65 in the world rankings after being outside the Top 100.
Harrison topped Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-4 in a more straight-forward affair. The 24-year-old will play Saturday for a spot in his first ATP final.
Mikhail Kukushkin and Nikoloz Basilashvili have peaked at the right time at the 2017 Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster. The duo from Kazhakstan and Georgia, respectively, have fought their way to the semifinals — without dropping a set — where they will meet with a berth in Sunday’s final on the line.
Kukushkin, a veteran on Tour for over a decade, has made the slow indoor hard courts of the Racquet Club of Memphis his personal playground, dropping just 14 games across six sets in wins over lucky lose Benjamin Becker, qualifier Darian King, and 4th-seeded Steve Johnson. Kukushkin had his way with Johnson in their quarterfinal clash, winning 62% of total points in the match including 71% of second serve return points.
The Kazhak has found most of his professional success on indoor hard courts, posting a 46-36 record indoors and only a 61-102 mark outside. Additionally, five of Kukushkin’s six ATP semifinals have come indoors.
“To play indoor hard, for me is the best conditions,” Kukushkin said. “Maybe that’s why I was able to show my good game (today). These conditions in Memphis, they really suit me.”
Basilashvili faced a bit more challenge on his way to the semifinals needing first set tiebreakers to get past top seed Ivo Karlovic and qualifier Matt Ebden. In his quarterfinal match with Ebden, Basilashvili fought from down a break in the second set to seal his second straight ATP semifinal, after reaching the same round in Sofia last week.
The Georgian credited his fitness with his recent string of success. “On court, I’m feeling very energized, very strong,” Basilashvili said. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I did a lot of work physically (in the offseason) and it paid off.”
When the two Eastern Europeans play in Saturday’s semifinal it will be their first meeting on Tour. Opportunity awaits for both: for Kukushkin, it is a chance to bolster his indoor credentials, for Basilashvili, a chance at his first ATP-level final.
The quarterfinals are set for the 2017 Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster after the completion of Thursday’s play.
Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, playing in Memphis for the first time, struck all the right notes in scoring a very impressive upset over top seed Ivo Karlovic 7-6, 6-3 to secure his place in the quarterfinals for the second straight week on Tour.
“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.”
American Steve Johnson, the 4th seed 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. Johnson said: “I had to go to plan B, C, D and E.”
Aussie qualifier Matt Ebden 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. In the final result of the day, Mikhail Kukushkin ended the run of Darian King from Barbados 6-3, 6-0.
In Friday’s quarterfinal action, 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 at 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.
Second seed John Isner plays Donald Young assuring at least one 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 American Ryan Harrison who has shown solid form of late, facing Damir Dzumhur for the first time.
Day Four action at the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster will start Thursday with an all-American match-up between Olympic medalist Steve Johnson, the 4th seed, and qualifier Tim Smyczek. It will be their second meeting, the last coming back in 2013, a win by Johnson.
The tallest man in tennis will follow when top seed Ivo Karlovic takes on Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili. Twice they have played; both occasions were in 2015 and Karlovic wins. The night session includes Taylor Fritz who won a spectacular match in the previous round from three match points down, versus Australian Matt Ebden who is rebuilding his ranking after injuries forced him off the tour for a lengthy period.
On Grandstand, Darian King of Barbados who advanced through the qualifying rounds and scored an impressive upset over 5th seed Bernard Tomic in the first round will play the tenacious Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.
The United States is guaranteed a player in the singles semifinals after second seed John Isner and Donald Young won their matches Wednesday to set up a quarterfinal clash.
Isner, a finalist at the Racquet Club of Memphis in 2010, powered down 26 aces while coming back from a set down to defeat Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Isner explained that having a first round bye was like a double-edged sword because his opponent had already got in a groove with a match under his belt.
“The main thing is I held my composure pretty good and got an early break in the second and was able to ride it out and the third set was tough,” Isner said. “I really like the conditions – the court is on the slower side and the balls are a bit heavy but I like that.
“The tournament has a different feel to me than most tournaments I play. I don’t even need a car, just walk across the street; essentially my hotel room is my locker room. It’s so nice and convenient here. I love it.”
Young got a bit of his own back against Reilly Opelka. They had played once before at last year’s BB&T Atlanta Open and on that occasion 19-year-old Opelka recorded the win. After a close first set, Young, playing in Memphis for the tenth time, scored his 100th career win 7-6, 6-3.
“It feels good. I’m happy to be here again and put two matches together,” Young said. “Anytime you can win a couple of matches in a row anywhere, particularly in the States, it’s a plus. We need more tournaments like this because we play better here.”
In other results Ryan Harrison continued his impressive form, upsetting 3rd seed and former Memphis Open champion Sam Querrey.
2008 winner and the seventh seed Steve Darcis was defeated by Damir Dzumhur 7-6, 6-4 while Mikhail Kukushkin defeated German Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-4. Becker came into the main draw as a “lucky loser” after his countryman Dustin Brown had to withdraw from the tournament with a back issue he first sustained while playing last week in Montpellier, France. Basilishvili swept past Aussie Jordan Thompson 6-3, 6-0.
In a stunning comeback at the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster, last year’s finalist Taylor Fritz saved three match points to upset eighth-seed Yen-Hsun Lu 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. It was a thrilling, tough match and the one thing in Fritz’s mind was not to lose.
“These are the moments I play for, the pressure moments, that’s my favorite thing about this sport,” Fritz said. “I was just thinking I didn’t want to lose. Sometime you just find a way … you can’t explain it.”
Playing at the Memphis Open for the first time since last year’s final, Fritz found the fan support to be the same. “It was a little nerve-wracking,” Fritz said. “But just like last year the fans got me through it.”
Darian King may not be the most recognized name outside his island paradise home of Barbados but the 24-year-old scored the biggest win of his career. King advanced through the qualifying rounds to reach the main draw where he upset the 5th seed Bernard Tomic of Australia, 6-4, 6-4.
“Playing Bernard and beating him is a dream come true,” King said after his first ever Tour level win in his second such event. “(Tennis) on Barbados is not as big and coming from there to come and compete against these guys is a lot of progress.
I’m glad to get my first ATP win. Hopefully I can continue this run; I’m glad for this win and glad for the win for Barbados.”
American Ryan Harrison accounted for Russian Konstantin Kravchuk 6-3, 7-5 setting him up with a second round match versus third seed and friend Sam Querrey that will guarantee an American in the quarterfinals.
A tussle between two qualifiers, Aussie Matt Ebden and Canadian Peter Polansky, resulted in Ebden rallying from a set down to win 6-7, 6-3, 6-1 while 2008 Memphis Open champion and this year’s 7th seed Steve Darcis survived a tight match against Radu Albot 7-5, 3-6, 6-4. The final match of Day 2 saw American qualifier Tim Smyczek take out wild card Frances Tiafoe in 3 sets.
Day 3 singles action will see Dustin Brown and his long flowing braids playing Mikhail Kukushkin. Donald Young faces Reilly Opelka in an All-American matchup and in the evening session, second seed John Isner faces Japanese youngster Yoshihito Nishioka. The Japanese player said of his first match against Isner that he hopes to get “a chance to break his serve once.” Nishioka added: “The first thing I must remember is to focus on my service games and the second is to get a chance on (his) service games.”
Closing out Stadium Court will be Querrey and Harrison. Meanwhile in singles on Grandstand Aussie Jordan Thompson plays Nikoloz Basilashvili and Damir Dzumhur plays Darcis.
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