Nikoloz Basilashvili vs Altug Celikbilek - 2021 Antalya Open First Round
Saturday January 9th, 2021 / 4:20am EST
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Sixth seeded Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili faces local Wild Card Altug Celikbilek in the Round of 16 at the 2021 Antalya Open in Turkey. This is the first tournament of the year on the ATP Tour and both players were impressive in their respective First Round victories. The pair have never faced each other so the head to head stands at 0-0. This seems like a mismatch on paper with Basilashivili being ranked almost 300 places over his opponent, but the match may be closer than it seems.
Nikoloz Basilashvili is currently ranked 40 but has had shockingly bad form of late. Until yesterday, he had not won an ATP match for 11 months and would have been relieved to end that poor run by defeating Andrea Arnaboldi. The match was very close until the third set, but the Georgian was able to hold his nerve and produce a flawless clinching set. He has huge groundstrokes which suit these conditions perfectly, and the only thing that can hold him back here is his mental state, which undoubtedly is still a bit shaky after the year he has had. If he can keep his mental demons under control, he enters this match as the overwhelming favorite against an inexperienced opponent.
Altug Celikbilek entered this tounament via Wild Card and is currently ranked 309. He has almost no experience at this level and has not played an ATP level match since this same tournament last year. He was impressive in his First Round victory over Poland's Kacper Zuk, which was his first Tour win. He will definitely take a lot of confidence from that victory and will be fancying his chances against an opponent who while ranked much higher than him has had some major struggles recently. If Celikbilek is able to stay focused and get off to a good start, anything can happen.
Despite his poor form and disastrous 2020 season, Nikoloz Basilashvili should win this match with relative ease. He is a highly experienced player and his opponent is simply not in the same class. His power should be too much for the young Turk to handle and he should win in straight sets here. Nikoloz Basilashvili to win.