March 12, 2021

Bautista Agut, Basilashvili to battle for Qatar ExxonMobil Open title

Spanish star Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday reached his second Qatar ExxonMobil Open final by beating defending champion Andrey Rublev of Russia. Playing their fifth match on Tour, fifth seed Bautista Agut won 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour and 13 minutes. Rublev, who was playing his first match following two walkovers this week, fired 8 aces but Bautista Agut played a controlled game from the baseline. It was the 32-year-old’s ninth successive win in Doha. The current world number 13 now has the chance to add to his 2019 Qatar ExxonMobil Open trophy on Saturday.

“It was very difficult conditions. The winds were blowing in every direction. I think I got good points as I was very focused in the match. I knew he was very well rested but I played a long match. But I felt fresh. I believe I played a good match. I am happy as I said. This court and this tournament is very special for me. I have played the best matches of my career in Qatar. I am happy with this win. I will rest and I hope to play a good final,” Bautista Agut said after his win.

In the day’s second semifinal, plucky Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia continued with his dream run when he beat American Taylor Fritz in straight sets. Basilashvili won 7-6, 6-1 in 1 hour and 16 minutes. By virtue of Friday’s win, the 29-year-old Georgian is now 1-1 with the American from two meetings on the Tour. It was Basilashvili’s 8th win in Doha against two losses. Basilashvili, who beat tennis star Roger Federer in the quarterfinals on Thursday, now has the chance to win his 4th career final. He has played in five finals.

“Reaching the finals mean s a lot to me. During the pandemic I didn’t play well. I had tough times. To be in the final means a lot. I am playing really well. I am relaxed and looking forward to playing the final. It is really nice to have spectators here. We haven’t had this pleasure for a long time. These are tough times for everybody. Roberto is playing well. He won it here two years ago. It will be interesting as he is a great player,” Basilashvili said.