2019 champion Roberto Bautista Agut, seeded two at this year’s Qatar Exxonmobil Open in Doha, battled through a thrilling semi-final to beat Karen Khachanov 2-6 6-3 7-5 in the spotlight of the Khalifa International Tennis Complex to reach the title round for the second consecutive year.
He was playing very solid, he was defending very well and he hit a lot of incredible passing shots. I must have played incredibly well tonight. I enjoyed tonight so much. Roberto Bautista Agut
“The atmosphere was amazing,” Bautista Agut said during his on-pitch interview. “I want to give Karen a lot of credit, he was playing amazing. I had to fight really hard to turn things around. It was a really tough game.”
The Spaniard recovered in the third game of the second set after being ruled out in the opener, when he successfully defended seven break points in a mammoth game to hold.
After slowing the Russian’s momentum and shattering his opponent’s confidence, the world No. 16 was able to apply his own crushing pressure in the decider, breaking 5-all before holding to earn a hard-earned place in the final.
With the win, the 33-year-old, who beat Andy Murray and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina for just three losses in his opening two matches, improved his win/loss record against the Russian to 6-2.
“He was playing very fast,” added Bautista Agut. “He was playing very solid, he was defending very well and he hit a lot of amazing passing shots. I must have played unbelievably well tonight. I enjoyed tonight so much.
Bautista Agut has always enjoyed his time in Doha after winning the title once and reaching the final last year where he lost to Georgian Nikoloz Basilashivili, ironically perhaps, but the player he will have to beat this year is he wants to choose the champion’s check again.
Earlier, the defending champion had qualified for the final with a 6-4 6-2 win over Frenchman Arthur Rinderknecht who ousted top seed Denis Shapovalov in the quarter-finals.
“I feel good,” Basilashvili said. “I really like playing in Doha. I can see the ball very well here and physically I feel much better than the previous matches. The final will be a tough match.
Basilashvili, who arrived at the ATP 250 event on a six-game losing streak in 2022, is aiming to win his sixth tour-level title this week.