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Leonardo Mayer vs Nikoloz Basilashvili German Tennis Championships tennis live: Defending champion Mayer targets third Hamburg title

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 28 Jul 2018
  • Leonardo Mayer vs Nikoloz Basilashvili is live from Hamburg at 3.00pm local time on Sunday (2.00pm BST)
  • First career meeting between the pair
Leonardo Mayer (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Leonardo Mayer - the ‘King of Hamburg’ - aims for his third German Tennis Championships title when he battles Nikoloz Basilashvili for the ATP 500-level silverware on Sunday.

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Leonardo Mayer is one win away from successfully defending his German Tennis Championships title as he prepares to face Nikoloz Basilashvili for the silverware in Hamburg on Sunday. Incredibly, Mayer’s only two ATP titles have come inside the Am Rothenbaum in Hamburg - including last year, when he secured the trophy as a lucky loser who was ranked outside the top 100.  Fast forward 12 months and Mayer is in the same position but ranked inside the top 40 - can he go back-to-back in the German city? Basilashvili meanwhile finds himself in an ATP final for the third straight season - can the qualifier capture his first title on Sunday? Mayer and Basilashvili take to court at 3.00pm local time (2.00pm BST).

Sometimes in tennis players develop a love affair for certain tournaments. John Isner this week at the BB&T Atlanta Open immediately comes to mind, with the American reaching the final in eight of the nine previous editions of the tournament. And, although not to the same extent, Mayer is doing the same thing at the German Tennis Championships, advancing into the Hamburg final in three of the last five seasons. Indeed, Mayer has compiled an excellent 15-2 record at the event - and he’s taken some big scalps this week in order to return to the final, conquering Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Gael Monfils, Diego Schwartzman and Jozef Kovalik, saving a match point against the Slovakian in Saturday’s semi-finals to prevail 6-7(6) 6-4 7-6(7) to prevail in two hours and 51 minutes.

Mayer hit his career-high ranking of No. 21 back in 2015 following his first title triumph in Hamburg the previous season and a runner-up finish in Nice, but a shoulder injury sidelined him shortly afterwards, and he’s only just made his way back into the top 50 this season after quarter-final finishes on the clay of Buenos Aires and Sao Paolo, a pair Round of 16 showing sat the Indian Wells Masters (where he took a set off eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro) and Madrid Masters and second round showings in Sydney, Miami, Barcelona, Queens, Nottingham and the Australian Open, where he played a very good match against Rafael Nadal despite losing in straight sets.

The fact that Mayer is currently ranked No. 36 in the world is somewhat fortunate - the Argentine was struggling to register the necessary results on the Challenger circuit last season to break back into the top 100, but two tournaments in two months were enough for him to do just that - and he lost in qualifying in both. Of course the first event was Hamburg, where Mayer lost to World No. 920 Rudolf Molleker in the final round of qualifying before gaining entry into the main draw as a lucky loser and winning the title, while he also made it into the U.S. Open main draw as a lucky loser, reaching the third round with wins over Richard Gasquet and Yuichi Sugita before going down to Nadal in four sets.

Back in the Hamburg final ranked 100 spots higher than this time last season, can Mayer make it a hat-trick of titles at the ATP 500 event? Or can his rival on Sunday win a first ever ATP World Tour title?

Nikoloz Basilashvili (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Nikoloz Basilashvili has now advanced into an ATP World Tour final for the third year on the bounce, becoming the first man from Georgia to achieve the feat when he made the Kitzbuhel final in 2016 (lost to Paolo Lorenzi) and the Memphis final in 2017 (lost to Ryan Harrison). But this has been Basilashvili’s best run to final, with the Georgian coming from qualifying - where he beat Tobias Kamke and Jurgen Melzer - to make the main draw before taking out Philipp Kohlschreiber, Pablo Cuevas, Pablo Carreno Busta and Nicolas Jarry (who beat Dominic Thiem earlier in the week) to reach his first ever ATP 500 title match.

Basilashvili finished a season inside the top 100 for the first time in 2016 and hit his career-high ranking of No. 51 midway through 2017 reaching the final of Memphis, the semi-finals of Sofia and Lyon and the third round of the French Open. The 26-year-old also made the semi-finals of Metz towards the end of 2018 and he appeared set to crack the top 50 after once again making a Grand Slam third round at the Australian Open, where he lost 7-5 in the fifth to eventual semi-finalist Kyle Edmund.

However, Basilashvili would lose his next four matches before going on a consistent run on clay, advancing to ATP quarter-finals in Casablanca and Budapest, along with a Challenger quarter-final in Tunis. Basilashvili lost in the first round of Roland Garros and Wimbledon to Gilles Simon, but he did make the second round in Halle and the quarter-finals in Antalya - and courtesy of his run to the final in Hamburg this week, he’s set to rise to at least No. 45 in the rankings - and around No. 35 if he can win the title.

This will be the first career meeting between the pair. They are quiet similar in a lot of ways in that Mayer and Basilashvili both tend to come up with inspired runs at random - although the Argentine traditionally does it in Hamburg. Both players are also extremely dangerous when they are in the zone, which should make this an extremely entertaining final. I’ve got to lean with Mayer - he’s the King of Hamburg after all and has played two less matches than Basilashvili after the Georgian came through qualifying. I’m backing the Argentine to complete a hat-trick of titles in Hamburg on Sunday.

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Leonardo Mayer vs Nikoloz Basilashvili German Tennis Championships tennis live: Defending champion Mayer targets third Hamburg title

Leonardo Mayer - the ‘King of Hamburg’ - aims for his third German Tennis Championships title when he battles Nikoloz Basilashvili for the ATP 500-level silverware on Sunday.

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