World No. 24 Roberto Bautista Agut followed up his shock victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic by lifting the Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2019 title on Saturday (January 5).
The Spaniard triumphed at the end of an enthralling one hour and 55 minutes encounter, winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 against the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in the final witnessed by the Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani and Father Emir HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani besides other distinguished guests at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex.
Besides the golden falcon trophy, Bautista Agut, the tournament’s seventh seed, smiled home with the top prize of $219,755 and 250 points.
With the victory, the 30-year-old Spaniard notched his ninth ATP Tour title and has now won a trophy in January for the fourth consecutive seasons.
He also became the third Spaniard to win the title in Doha, joining Rafael Nadal (2014) and David Ferrer (2015).
Bautista Agut had lost his past three meetings with Berdych, the 33-year-old former world number four who has slipped to 71 in the rankings.
The Spaniard, who was edged out in the opening round of his last appearance in Doha in 2012, won the opening set in 41 minutes after a break in the seventh game, Berdych bounced back to claim the second breaking the Spaniard twice.
In the decider, Bautista Agut’s path to victory got complicated as despite having gained a 4-1 advantage, Berdych tried his best to stay in the match. After hanging onto his serve for 2-4, the Czech loosened up and played aggressively to earn two break points of his own to get back on serve. But on the second of those opportunities, Berdych missed a sitting forehand approach shot, and that would be his last opportunity. Bautista Agut served out the match without dropping a point, striking a final forehand winner looking towards his coach and wide and letting out a roar of ‘Vamos’!
“It was a fantastic week for me. Today, it wasn’t easy to manage after all the emotions I had yesterday on court (after beating Djokovic). But, now I’m so happy,” Bautista Agut said.
“It’s always a very tough draw in Doha. It’s a very tough tournament with a lot of good players. And when I started the week, I was feeling good with the ball. I was enjoying practicing. I was playing match by match. And since the first moment of the tournament until the last point, I felt really good on the court and I’m delighted to have ended up with the trophy,” he added
Despite the loss, Berdych was happy at having made a comeback from his back injury which saw him miss much of last year.
“I am happy that I could manage to go all the way. But Roberto was too good in the final. I am happy with the week. I like to come to Doha, I like the fans, I like the players and I want to thank QatarExxonMobil for the hospitality,” said the Czech.