The Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2021 came to an exciting end on Saturday, with Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili defeating 2019 champion Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 7-6(5), 6-2 in the final to lift the golden falcon trophy at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha.
The champion also walked away with $69,520 winner’s prize money besides claiming the tournament’s 250 ATP ranking points.
Basilashvili’s victory in Doha, his fourth ATP Tour title, capped a stunning week for the world No.42 Georgian, who entered the tournament with just two wins from his past 16 matches.
So convincing was the 29-year-old performance in the final that he did not face a breakpoint, as he powered through heavy winds to win in 88 minutes.
Basilashvili, who stopped 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in the quarters on Thursday, had secured his final ticket on the back of a dominant 7-6 (3), 6-1 win over USA’s Taylor Fritz, who defeated fourth-seeded Denis Shapovalov in the quarter-final.
“I’m pleased to win against a tough opponent and a former champion. It has been a great week for me, and it is amazing winning here in Doha. I’ve enjoyed my stay in this beautiful city, and I’ll like to thank the organisers for this wonderful tournament. I am leaving Doha with fond memories,” Basilashvili said.
The first set was dominated by serve as the players seem to be needing time to adjust to the windy condition. The opening six points of the tie-break were, however, won by the returning player. Basilashvili was rewarded for taking risks on his backhand side, as he punished short balls for striking winners and forcing his opponent into errors.
Basilashvili earned the first two breakpoints of the match at 3-2 in the second set, and he took his chance to close in on victory. The four-time ATP Tour titlist ripped two cross-court backhand winners to take a 4-2 lead and, two games later, he earned a second break to capture the title.
With Saturday’s win, Basilashvili narrowed the head-to-head advantage against his 32-year-old opponent to 2-3.
“We’re delighted that the Qatar ExxonMobil Open returned to Doha this year given the circumstances the world is facing with the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dominic Genetti, President and General Manager for ExxonMobil Qatar. “It was a fantastic tournament – congratulations to Nikoloz Basilashvili on his remarkable win.”
“It is the strong and long-term partnership we share with the Qatar Tennis Federation that has allowed us to create a world-class tournament in Qatar for the world to enjoy. We’re very proud of how it has evolved over the years through our close collaboration and look forward to what the future holds for us,” he added.
The Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2021 was the 29th edition of the annual tournament, which has always been held at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha.
Tournament Director Karim Alami said, “Tonight was a befitting end to a tournament that took place against all the odds. We are very happy with its success, and we would like to thank everyone – players, staff, officials and fans – for adhering to all the necessary health and safety regulations. Congratulations to Nikoloz Basilashvili on his deserving victory. We look forward to welcoming everyone again next year.”