DOHA, Qatar – Novak Djokovic lost surprisingly in Doha, beaten in the Qatar Open semifinal by world No. 24 Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-3, 6-7 (8/6), 6-4, on Friday, January 4.
The Serb fell to his first defeat of the season in a high-quality contest lasting more than 2 1/2 hours, which saw the Spaniard lose his 1st set of the week but come back to beat the world No. 1.
"What happened? I lost the match. That's it," a clearly frustrated Djokovic said in his post-match press conference.
Agut took Djokovic's serve in the 2nd game of the final set for the decisive break and secured victory on his 1st match point.
"I will remember this match for [the rest] of my life," said the 30-year-old Spaniard.
He will play the Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych in Saturday's final.
"I can't be more happy than I am now."
Robertooo @BautistaAgut shocks No.1 Djokovic 3-6 7-6(6) 6-4 to advance to the Doha final! #QatarTennis pic.twitter.com/TQdmOfW3eQ — Tennis TV (@TennisTV) January 4, 2019
It is the second time he has beaten Djokovic in his career and both victories occurred in a semifinal.
The first came in October 2016 in Shanghai. Djokovic was also world No. 1 at that stage.
Bautista Agut said Friday's victory was the better of the two.
"I think today the match was better, the level of the tennis today was very high," he said.
"We both played very good tennis and it was also more tight on the score and more emotions and today was a really good match."
A fired-up Djokovic smashed his racket after dropping his serve in the 8th game of the 2nd set.
"I thought I was pretty much in control of the match, set and a break, serving 4-3," Djokovic said.
"He played a good game. I missed some easy balls and that's what you get as a result of losing the focus in the most important moments and it happens, it happens."
Not the freshest
Questions may be asked about how tired the Serb was, as he played two matches each day for 3 days in singles and doubles, prior to Friday's defeat.
Including the meeting with Bautista Agut, Djokovic spent almost 10 hours on court in 3 days and played 11 sets in singles' matches.
Asked if he had done too much through the week, he replied: "I wasn't the freshest, you know.
"This is what I was looking forward to, to get from this tournament, as many matches as possible, to get ready for the Australian Open, so I'm very pleased.
"Obviously, I'm not pleased that I lost the match today, but I lost to a better player in the end."
The second semifinal proved a much tamer affair.
Berdych eased through to his second Doha final in straight sets, beating Italy's Marco Cecchinato 7-6 (8/6), 6-3.
Currently the world No. 73, Berdych was once ranked No. 4.
His previous Qatar Open final, in 2015, was also against a Spaniard, David Ferrer. It ended in a straight sets defeat. – Rappler.com