Inspired Bautista Agut downs Djokovic in Doha

Published by Alex Sharp

Roberto Bautista Agut celebrates his semifinal victory over Novak Djokovic at the ATP event in Doha, Qatar (Getty Images)
The Spaniard entered the semifinal in Qatar with only one victory over Djokovic in eight previous contests, before flipping the form guide on its head on Friday.

Season 2019 is only a few days old, but we already have the first major ATP shock courtesy of Roberto Bautista Agut completing a 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4 triumph over world No.1 Novak Djokovic at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

The Spaniard’s sole victory over the 14-time Grand Slam champion came at Shanghai in 2016 from eight previous attempts, however, Bautista Agut battled back with brave hitting and fiercely aggressive play.

The world No.24 clinched the memorable win to deny Djokovic a sixth straight final on Tour to book a silverware showdown with Tomas Berdych in Doha.

“I will remember this match all my life. It was an unbelievable atmosphere,” Bautista Agut said during his on court interview. “I work every day to play this tennis. I know it’s difficult to play at this level. That’s why Novak is No. 1 in the world. But I cannot be more happy than I am now.”

The Serb, who was champion in 2016 and 2017, cruised through the opening set before Bautista Agut dragged the contest into a decider by edging the tie-break in the second set.

FEATURE: Berdych ‘back at it’ in comeback quest

With the momentum swinging his way, Bautista Agut secured an early break in the final set before closing out the match.

“I wanted to give everything I had and fight until the last point,” added Bautista Agut, who will look to win his ninth ATP title in Saturday’s final.

Despite the defeat, Djokovic hailed the endeavour of his opponent and highlighted his promising preparation for the Australian Open later this month.

“I lost the match. That’s it. He managed to turn things around, obviously at the end of the second set. I thought I was pretty much in control of the match,” assessed Djokovic.

“He played a good game. I missed some easy balls and that’s what you get as a result of losing the focus in the most important moments.

“This is what I was looking forward to, to get from this tournament, as many matches as possible, to get ready for the Australian Open. So I’m very pleased,” stated the world No.1.

“Obviously, I’m not pleased that I lost the match today, but I lost to a better player in the end and I have to turn the next page.”

Berdych edged into the title clash after the Czech beat fourth seed Marco Cecchinato 7-6(6) 6-3 in the second semifinal.

The former world No.4 is back in competitive action for the first time since Queen’s last June and Berdych is eager to cap his comeback in style.

“I’m not satisfied yet, because there is still one more to go,” said the 2010 Wimbledon finalist.

“I did some very important decisions in the past six months, and so far all of them seems they were right. I still have to be very patient, even though the results right now are clicking and it’s all going well. But I really just need to stay very focused and hope to go all the way, because the season and everything will be extremely long.”

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