Roberto Bautista Agut reached the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final for the second time on Friday after the 2019 titlist extended his winning run in Doha to nine matches with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over third-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev in 74 minutes.
“It was very difficult to play tennis today, with the windy conditions,” said Bautista Agut. “But I put a lot of pressure on his second serve and played really good tennis. I played a long match yesterday [against Dominic Thiem], but I felt fresh and I had a lot of power on the court.”
He will next look to capture his 10th ATP Tour title on Saturday when he faces Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in the Doha final. Bautista Agut leads Basilashvili 3-1 in their ATP Head2Head series.
“This court and tournament is one of my favourites,” said Bautista Agut, after recording the 14th Top 10 win of his career. “I played one of my best matches here in Qatar two years ago, and I hope I can win one more match tomorrow.”
Rublev, who was playing his first match of the week after two consecutive walkovers, had lifted trophies at his past four ATP 500 tournaments, including the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (d. Fucsovics) last week.
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Bautista Agut got off to the best possible start with terrific, clean ball-striking, carrying on from where he left off against top Dominic Thiem on Thursday night. Bautista Agut hit a forehand winner to break for a 3-1 advantage and remained in control throughout the 29-minute first set. While Rublev won 13 of 14 first-service points, errors cost the Russian.
Bautista Agut carried the momentum into the second set, using his backhand to open up the court to break Rublev in the first game. Rublev broke back immediately, but failed to win another game once he took a 3-2 lead.
The 23-year-old Rublev is now 13-2 on the season, which includes helping Russia capture the ATP Cup crown (d. Italy) and a run to the Australian Open quarter-finals (l. to Medvedev).
Basilashvili beat Taylor Fritz of the United States 7-6(3), 6-1 in the second semi-final, which lasted 75 minutes. The 29-year-old, who saved one match point against Roger Federer in the quarter-finals on Thursday night, will attempt to capture his fourth ATP 500 title on Saturday. He has lifted 500-level trophies at the 2018 and 2019 Hamburg European Open, and also at the 2018 China Open in Beijing.
“To reach the final means a lot,” said Basilashvili, who came into the Doha tournament on the back of a five-match losing streak. “I am playing well and I am relaxed. It’s great to play in front of a crowd and a nice atmosphere.”
Basilashvili recovered from a slow start, battling back from losing eight of the first 10 points, to clinch the 52-minute first set, which ended with a Fritz forehand wide. The Georgian then surged to a 3-0 lead in the second set, which saw him lose seven points.