Wednesday 23 January 2019

Djokovic Australian Open build-up hit by shock defeat in Doha

Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot during the ATP Qatar ExxonMobil Open at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic of Serbia returns a shot during the ATP Qatar ExxonMobil Open at Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Roberto Bautista Agut stunned world number one Novak Djokovic to reach the final of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha.

The world number 24 came from a set down to win 3-6 7-6 (8) 6-4 to claim only his second victory over Djokovic and a fourth triumph over a top-five opponent.

"I will remember this match all my life. It was an unbelievable atmosphere," Bautista Agut said on court.

"I work every day to play this tennis. I know it's difficult to play at this level. That's why Novak is number one in the world. But I cannot be more happy than I am now."

The shock result breaks a run of five consecutive finals reached by Djokovic, who had also won 13 matches in a row in Doha.

There was little sign of an upset when Djokovic led by a set and a break but the Spaniard upped his aggression, using his flat cross-court groundstrokes to push the top seed back.

Bautista Agut squandered three set points in the second set and another in the tie-break before eventually levelling the match to force a decider, in which he immediately broke serve and never looked back.

"I wanted to give everything I had in the match and fight until the last point," Bautista Agut said.

"Finally I could turn the second set. Novak was up and it was really tough. He was very solid and I had to play very good tennis. I had to play a lot of lines and serve very well. I did everything well today."

Bautista Agut will bid for his ninth ATP Tour trophy on Saturday against wild card Tomas Berdych.

Ivo Karlovic made history at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune by becoming the oldest player since 43-year-old Ken Rosewall at the 1977 Hong Kong Championship to reach a tour-level final.

The 39-year-old Croat beat Belgian Steve Darcis 7-6 (7) 4-6 6-3 to advance to his first championship match since 's-Hertogenbosch in 2017.

Karlovic, who has reached seven of his 19 ATP Tour finals after turning 35, will play top seed Kevin Anderson for the title.

The 6ft 11in Karlovic was broken for the first time in the tournament but still managed to hit 33 aces to take his total for the tournament to 88.

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