First-Time Winner Spotlight: Mirza Basic
Mirza Basic claimed his first ATP World Tour crown on Sunday in a tense three-set battle with Marius Copil, edging out the Romanian 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 6-4 in a high-quality final at the DIEMA XTRA Sofia Open. The victory propels the 26-year-old Bosnian into the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings for the first time and he becomes just the second player from his country to win a tour-level title (Damir Dzumhur).
Afterwards, Basic spoke to ATPWorldTour.com:
How does it feel to be holding your first ATP world tour trophy?
It’s a dream come true. This week... I made the breakthrough to the Top 100 and I won my first ATP title, so I’m very happy. Winning the first [title] from the first [final] is a very good thing. So, I’m happy.
Was this a goal that you had as a junior growing up?
As a junior, all of them have one first goal: to make Top 100. So I made it this week. I think now I’m going to change my plan. Like everybody I’m going to try to be better and better, but first goal, for every junior, is to make Top 100.
You won two qualifying matches and five in the main draw. What did you do well to put seven matches together during the week?
I was just looking match after match. I started very slow. I was a set and a break down, so at that point I [saw] that it was not going to be an easy week. So I was just focusing on match by match. Every match I was playing better and better and in the end I played good tennis.
You beat No 4 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber and top seed Stan Warwinka along the way. Did those wins give you confidence to know you could win the title?
Of course, those wins gave me extra confidence. My problem is that you get too much respect for these guys. I mean, I still respect a lot of them, but I see that it’s possible to play at this level, so I’m happy to win those two matches.
You reached the semi-finals in Moscow last year and then the quarterfinals in Doha to start the year. What did you do during the off-season to prepare for 2018?
The first time that I feel that I can go on this level and play was in Moscow when I went through the qualifying all the way to the semi-finals and I lost to my countryman Damir Dzumhur. So I had a good run there and then I did some Challangers at the end of the year. Then I went for the preseason, which I did very well in Abu Dhabi. I think we did well because the first week of the year, in Doha, I qualified and I played the quarter-finals... When you’re practicing, you’re just waiting for the week when the work is going to pay off. For me, it happened in the first week so I got confidence from the beginning of the year.
Now that you have won your first ATP World Tour title, what are the goals that you have for the rest of the season?
Of course it’s changed. I now have a different ranking, so there’s going to be different plans for me. Once I’m home, I need to see the plan because at the moment I’m going for the US tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami and after that I need to see the new schedule.
Did you have a ranking goal coming into the season?
[For] the last six or seven years I had only one goal: making the Top 100. Two years ago I was in Sofia – I was playing a match where if I won it, I would break the Top 100, because after that week I was No. 109. But at this moment he was too strong. I lost [6-3, 6-4 to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez], so I didn’t have a chance. But the next time – here, this year – I made it.
Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge who is helped you get to where you are in your career?
The first thing that is in mind is my parents and my brother who sacrificed their life to put me in tennis. And also I would like to [thank] my coaches, my fitness coach in Bosnia and my tennis coach in Belgium, they are the people who helped me.
What are your interests and hobbies away from tennis?
I’m a very big fan of football like most people. And then there’s basketball – I also played basketball when I was younger I played for a club for four or five years. Also now when I have time I’m playing. I like playing any sports.