TennisSection previews the 2021 Indian Wells Open as Nikoloz Basilashvili takes on Taylor Fritz in the semifinals on Saturday, October 16th, 2021.
Will Nikoloz Basilashvili move on? Will Taylor Fritz pull off the upset? This will be an interesting one, where we have a very surprising matchup of two players who each just pulled off career-best wins. Who will move onto the final at the 2021 Indian Wells Open?
Nikoloz Basilashvili played a great match to take out Stefanos Tsitsipas and move on to face another surprise semi-finalist in Taylor Fritz. He is the slight favorite here, but it won’t be easy by any means. While at his peak, Basilashvili can play some insane tennis, being able to beat some of the best players in the world as we saw today, he can also be really inconsistent. Then again, this wasn’t a first round victory, and we typically see players who beat these top guys to maintain their form for at least the rest of the tournament, it doesn’t just magically go away. Having said that, if he serves like he did today, I think he will handle Fritz without being pushed to the limit. I do think it will be a 3 set match no matter what, but with how consistently he put his serves in the court today, and simultaneously served the ball so big, I don’t see Fritz being able to handle it all if Tsitsipas could not. Assuming Fritz also does a good job on serve, it will mostly come down to who will play more aggressively, for Fritz, his goal will be to target Basilashvili’s forehand, for Basilashvili, it will be the opposite, hoping to get some backhand exchanges going. It will be tight either way, but Basilashvili is a more complete player, and has had better career results for a reason, let’s see if he can get another big win to book his place in the 2021 Indian Wells Open final.
Taylor Fritz got a ridiculous win over third seed Alexander Zverev, coming back from 2-5 down in the third and saving 2 match points. Zverev has always been known to have issues closing and just having mental toughness issues in general, and while it was no different here, Fritz showed unbelievable mental resolve to storm back and take out one of the best players in the world. Zverev is playing better than Tsitsipas right now, and is a harder opponent to beat, as is evident by their recent matches. However, Fritz didn’t have to work as hard as Basilashvili, seeing as Zverev helped him out a little bit. He also didn’t serve as well as Basilashvili, which is one of the keys to the match. Fritz isn’t the best returner, and if he isn’t able to get a hold of the few second serves that Basilashvili will give him, he won’t have many opportunities to get ahead, and since he will give a lot more second serves to a better returner, that’s also a cause for worry. Fritz’s forehand can go astray a lot of the time, and while Basilashvili is in a similar boat with his forehand, Basilashvili’s backhand is a lot more solid, and he’ll be able to heavily damage him off that end. It’ll be a tough one for Fritz, let’s see if he can stay in the fight for a place in the final at the 2021 Indian Wells Open.
Nikoloz Basilashvili and Taylor Fritz have met 3 times before, with Taylor Fritz leading the head to head 2-1. The head to head may be a little misleading, as their first meeting is rather irrelevant seeing as how long ago it was. Their other two meetings however, are very important to look at, they came at two back to back tournaments earlier this year in Doha and Dubai. Basilashvili stormed past Fritz in the Doha final, taking the title in 2. Fritz stormed back from a set down in Dubai, getting his revenge. This is really helpful to figure out who will win this one, on top of what we already know. Doha is a slower court, with Basilashvili having a lot of time to hit big from the back of the court and not allow Fritz to take the ball early and rip his forehand crosscourt too often. Dubai however, is a really fast court, where Fritz was able to do just that. Basilashvili was still able to grab the first set off him there, just showing that he is a good natural matchup for him, as his backhand is a level higher. It will most certainly be interesting, but Basilashvili will likely tough it out in 3 sets to head through to the 2021 Indian Wells Open final.
Free Tennis Pick and Prediction: Nikoloz Basilashvili in 3 sets.
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