Djokovic Survives Fucsovics Scare In Doha
Serbian to meet Basilashvili in quarter-finals
The two-time champion, who improved to 14-1 in Doha, was tested throughout the opening two sets, but managed to win 67 per cent (14/21) of second-serve return points in the final set to book his place in the quarter-finals. Djokovic's only loss in Doha came on his debut in 2015, falling in three sets to Ivo Karlovic in the quarter-finals.
“He was a better player for two sets and, no doubt, I managed to break his resistance towards the end of the second set... I just think he dropped his level a little bit, and I managed to get on top of him,” Djokovic said. “He did surprise me with his level. It was very high throughout the two sets. I must say that he was the one that was dictating the play. He was really great in defence. [He had] a very good serve, had great tactics, and he managed to get very close to the win.”
In 2016, Djokovic did not drop a set en route to his maiden crown in Qatar, beating Tomas Berdych and Rafael Nadal in back-to-back matches to clinch the title. The following year, Djokovic retained the trophy with hard fought three-set wins over Fernando Verdasco and Andy Murray in the semi-finals and final, respectively.
In a tense opening set, Fucsovics started with confidence before making the decisive move at 4-4. The Geneva champion pushed Djokovic to the limit in extended rallies, with the World No. 1 needing all his defensive skill and variety to keep pace. But, after saving two break points, Djokovic was unable to contain his opponent much longer. Fucsovics eventually broke serve on his third break point of the game with a driven backhand up the line before holding his nerve to serve out the set to love.
Fucsovics maintained his level in the second set, trading blows with Djokovic in baseline rallies and finding success on his forehand side. But Djokovic managed to raise his level when it mattered most. The 72-time tour-level titlist found his range on his forehand side, earning two set points with a sharp-angled forehand winner before clinching the set in dramatic fashion as Fucsovics made an ill-judged Hawk Eye challenge on a Djokovic forehand that clipped the baseline.
The World No. 1 rode the momentum into the third set, holding serve comfortably to 15 before capitalising on back-to-back forehand errors from his opponent to break for a 2-0 lead. A second break soon followed after a confident love service hold and, despite surrendering one of his service breaks, Djokovic immediately regained his double-break advantage before closing out the match. The Serbian converted his first match point with a backhand winner up the line.
Djokovic will meet Nikoloz Basilashvili for a place in the semi-finals. The Serbian won their lone prior FedEx ATP Head2Head matchup last year in Rome. Basilashvili defeated 2018 runner-up Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4, converting all four break points he earned throughout the 61-minute contest.
"I played [Novak] last year and I am really looking forward to it," said Basilashvili. "It will be a really interesting experience for me again. He is playing really well at this moment."