Thiem defeated No. 5 Kevin Anderson, an Open finalist last year and a Wimbledon finalist this year, 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2), to set up a meeting with Nadal, who had more to deal with than he might have thought in Basilashvili.
“It was a difficult match, of course,” Nadal said. “I lost the third set, I think playing a good tiebreak. He played better.”
Some Georgian fans had to settle for watching from outside Arthur Ashe Stadium, though. Nono Dzgania, a 57-year-old woman from Georgia who now lives in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, watched Makatsaria on Sunday while Basilashvili was in Ashe. Dzgania did not have a ticket for the stadium, so she wandered the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center until something caught her eye.
“I saw her name, Makatsaria, and I knew that it is Georgian,” she said. “So I watched to support her. But Basilashvili, he is very good.”
Pachulia, who was born in 1984, when Georgia was still part of the Soviet Union, said that Basilashvili, who was born in Tbilisi, had become a role model for many Georgians already.
“Besides being small, you have to understand the history of Georgia, where in the 1990s, it was very tough,” Pachulia said. “You would think, ‘It’s hard to get out of this darkness, this difficulty, and achieve the goals and dreams you have as a kid.’ If you work hard, you can break out, and Nikoloz is one of the examples of that.
“That is one of the reasons why I am here supporting him,” he added. “His success can open doors for a lot of other kids and athletes in Georgia. Even if it affects only one person’s life, I will be very happy.”