Nikoloz Basilashvili finished in the top-30 for the second year in a row despite not playing his best tennis in 2019, defending the title in Hamburg and embracing a mediocre 28-24 score. After a tough end of the previous season due to an injury, the Georgian is ready to lead his country at the ATP Cup, facing Spain, Japan and Uruguay in Perth, kicking off the new campaign against the hardest possible obstacle, world no.
1 Rafael Nadal. Rafa and Nikoloz played three times in the past, with the Spaniard scoring two dominant victories on clay at Roland Garros and Rome, between a more challenging duel at the US Open 2018 that went into the fourth set.
Losing just two matches after Madrid last May, Nadal will try to make the best possible start, eager to chase another team title after delivering the Davis Cup crown at home in Madrid in November and prepare for the upcoming Australian Open.
At the moment, he is focused only on the upcoming clash with Nikoloz who will try to cause an upset, aware of the rival's quality and his current level. "It is going to be one of the toughest matches in my career, probably," Basilashvili said.
"At the same time, I am going to enjoy it. It will be a significant experience, especially at the beginning of the year, I am looking forward to it. I have to be in my best physical shape to stand a chance against him. I feel great on hard court at the moment; in general, I did a good pre-season and I am O.K physically.
I have to play my best tennis to have a chance to beat him because, right now, he is playing unbelievable tennis and I have to try to give my best to match his level."