Basilashvili Caps Dream Week With Doha Crown
Nikoloz Basilashvili entered the Qatar ExxonMobil Open with just two wins from his past 16 matches, but the Georgian found his best level in Doha to clinch his fourth ATP Tour title.
The World No. 42 did not face a break point, as he powered through heavy winds on Saturday to defeat Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(5), 6-2. Basilashvili, who saved a match point to defeat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, has now won his past four ATP Tour championship matches (4-2).
“I am somehow managing to play good in tougher conditions and tougher matches,” said Basilashvili. “This tournament was one of the toughest ATP 250s I have ever seen, probably. We had three Top 10 players. It is interesting [to ask] why I am playing good in the big tournaments and big matches. [It is] surprising. At the same time, [I am] happy.”
Basilashvili entered the final with a 1-3 ATP Head2Head record against Bautista Agut, but he improved to 2-0 against the fifth seed on hard courts with his victory in the final. Both of the 29-year-old’s wins against Bautista Agut have come in the Middle East. Basilashvili also defeated the Spaniard at the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
“[I am] super happy. I was not expecting that but, at the same time, I was working a lot,” said Basilashvili. “I was feeling good on the court. I was playing the last half a year with a lot of stress in my body. I was not able to put 100 per cent on the court in any matches. This week, I somehow found a way to deal with the stressful moments. I am very happy to get through [to the title].”
In windy conditions on Centre Court, both players needed time to adjust to the conditions. The set was dominated by serve, but the opening six points of the tie-break were won by the returning player. Basilashvili was rewarded for taking risks on his backhand side, as he punished short balls to strike winners and force his opponent into errors.
Basilashvili earned the first two break points 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.
“[There were] very strong gusts today, but I had good mindset. From the beginning, I was accepting things very good,” said Basilashvili. “I was concentrated on just playing the game and just looking at the ball and moving a lot. It was tough physically, as well, because for sure you have to move twice as hard and I managed that.”
Bautista Agut was attempting to lift his 10th ATP Tour title. The 32-year-old entered the championship match on a nine-match winning streak at the ATP 250, dating back to the start of his title run in 2019. Bautista Agut defeated top seed Dominic Thiem and third seed Andrey Rublev in back-to-back matches to reach his 18th tour-level final (9-9).
“I don’t like to lose. I think I could have played a better but, today, it was his final. I want to congratulate Basilashvili,” Bautista Agut said in an on-court interview. “He played great. He played very aggressive. Now it is time to recover, to keep working, to keep improving and hopefully I can come back next year and try to get the title again.”