Novak Djokovic suffered his first loss of 2019 when he was sent out in the semi-finals of the ATP Doha by Roberto Bautista-Agut.
The Serbian, who won two Grand Slam titles last year, began this season with a win at the Mubadala exhibition event but had his difficulties right throughout this competition in Qatar before finally bowing out to Bautista-Agut. He went down 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4.
The 30-year-old Bautista Agut, who is ranked 24th in the world, was staring down the wrong end of the barrel when he lost the first set. And for him to then come back and win the next two sets including the second in a tie-breaker, making it even more special for the Spaniard.
Needing two hours and 35 minutes to clinch the tie, Bautista Agut will now take on wildcard Tomas Berdych, 33 in the final. Berdych, a former top four player, now ranked 71, overcame another favourite Marco Cecchinato 7-6(6), 6-3 to reach the title-decider.
Bautista Agut had beaten Djokovic just once before this meeting, having played him on eight previous occasions, but the Serb’s recent struggles might have given him some hope.
After a straight-set win over Damir Dumhur in round one, Djokovic dropped a set apiece to both Marton Fucsovics and Nikoloz Basilashvili in his next two matches in the lead-up to the semi-final.
What would also added to the Spaniard’s confidence is his three wins in the tournament were all in straight sets, including a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.
His opponent in the final, Berdych had ended his 2018 season, last playing at the Queen’s event. He hasn’t won at ATP title since 2016 when he won in Shenzhen. Since then he has made it to just one final – at Lyon in 2017 – where he lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.