(Reuters) - Georgian qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili upended defending champion Leonardo Mayer 6-4 0-6 7-5 to win his first ATP title at the German Tennis Championships in Hamburg on Sunday.
Despite struggling with his first serve, Basilashvili broke his Argentine opponent in the ninth game to clinch the opening set.
Mayer, whose two tour-level titles have come on Hamburg clay, responded by breaking Basilashvili’s serve three times in the second set to force a decider.
Having already recovered from a 6-0 second set in his semi-final win over Chilean Nicolas Jarry, Basilashvili was unfazed by the challenge as he grabbed a crucial break in the 11th game before wrapping up the victory on his own serve.
“What a match today. I’m extremely tired, I played seven matches,” the 26-year-old Basilashvili said. “I literally gave, in every match, my heart.
“I’m pretty sure every player worked so hard for this but it’s an unbelievable moment for me.”
It was third time lucky for Basilashvili after agonizing defeats in his previous two finals in Memphis (2017) and Kitzbuehel (2016).
He becomes the fourth qualifier to triumph at the tour level this season, joining Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, Bosnian Mirza Basic and Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon