Basilashvili one step away from breaking Georgia's ATP duck
REUTERS - Nikoloz Basilashvili is one win away from becoming the first player from Georgia to win an ATP Tour title after he sailed into the final of the Memphis Open on Saturday.
The 24-year-old survived a tight first set against Mikhail Kukushkin on Saturday afternoon, before racing through the second set to complete a 7-6(5) 6-1 victory over his Kazakh opponent.
Basilashvili will play Ryan Harrison in Sunday's final, after the American overcame compatriot Donald Young 6-4 6-4 in the other semi-final.
"The more matches you play, the more you get used to playing in these important moments," said Basilashvili, who is ranked a career-high 67th after making it to the semi-finals at the Sofia Open last week.
"I have really good energy at the moment and am enjoying being on the court, so I hope to keep this level going."
Basilashvili played aggressively against Kukushkin, but converted only one of his 10 break points in a marathon first set, which lasted nearly 90 minutes and hung in the balance deep into the tiebreak.
Basilashvili took just 22 minutes to close out the second set.
The player from Tbilisi has not dropped a set all week, going from strength to strength after beating top seed Ivo Karlovic in the round of 16.
Basilashvili should be more rested for the final than Harrison, who after beating Young in the evening semi had to go straight back out for a doubles semi-final.
Harrison, ranked 62nd in the world, will be competing in his first final, after losing his seven previous semi-final appearances.
"I hit some obstacles in my career where I really wasn't sure if I was ever going to be able to do this again, so I'm really happy," said Harrison, 24, who also has not dropped a set all week.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)