Red-Hot Bautista Agut Soars Through In Doha

Frenchman Rinderknech stuns Shapovalov

Roberto Bautista Agut is on fire at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

In a dominant performance on Thursday, the Spaniard crushed forehands and hammered backhands as he cruised past countryman Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals in Doha for the third time.

Bautista Agut has dropped just three games in his opening two matches this week, having downed Andy Murray 6-0, 6-1 on Wednesday. The second seed has a strong record at the ATP 250 event, lifting the trophy in 2019, before he advanced to the final last year.

"This is one of my favourite courts,” Bautista Agut said in his on-court interview. “I love playing here. I play great tennis here. I really enjoy stepping onto court here and I am really happy I was able to win the match well. I have a lot of energy going into the semi-finals tomorrow.”

The 33-year-old did not face a break point against Davidovich Fokina en route to his 76-minute win. It is the first time the World No. 16 has enjoyed a run to the last four at a tour-level event since he reached the semi-finals in Miami last April.

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Bautista Agut will next face Karen Khachanov after the Russian defeated fourth seed Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and two minutes.

With his win, Khachanov has levelled their ATP Head2Head series at 2-2. It is the second time the sixth seed has reached the semi-finals at a tour-level event this season, after he advance to the final at the Adelaide International 1, where he also beat Cilic.

Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech earned the third Top 20 win of his career Thursday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, upsetting World No. 12 Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals.

The 26-year-old, who is making his debut at the ATP 250 tournament, raised his level in the crucial moments in a dominant performance against the top seed. Rinderknech saved all three break points he faced to advance after 71 minutes, levelling their ATP Head2Head series at 1-1, after Shapovalov had overcome the World No. 61 in Stockholm in November.

"It feels great to win and be through to the semi-finals, especially against a great player," Rinderknech said. "I am really happy. I worked pretty hard during the off-season, I think my body is in good shape, which helps."

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With his victory, Rinderknech has maintained his strong start to the new season, improving to 9-3 on the year. In January, he advanced to the championship match at the Adelaide International 2, falling to Thanasi Kokkinakis. The Frenchman is bidding to capture his maiden tour-level title this week.

Rinderknech, who earned wins over Top 20 stars Jannik Sinner and Roberto Bautista Agut last season, will play third seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in the semi-finals.

In a tight contest, the Georgian edged Marton Fucsovics 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 15 minutes. Basilashvili has fond memories in Doha, having defeated Roger Federer en route to lifting the trophy there last year.

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