Basilashvili Ends Federer’s Comeback In Doha

Nikoloz Basilashvili (photo: QTF)

DOHA/STARNBERG, March 11, 2021

Nikoloz Basilashvili upset three-time Doha champion and World No. 6 Roger Federer, who has played his first tournament since January 2020, on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. 

The World N. 42 from Georgia saved one match point at 4-5 in the decider to secure a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory with cross-court backhand winner after one hour and 50 minutes.

Basilashvili is 3-0 this week after entering Doha with a 2-13 record since the resumption of the ATP Tour last August. The 29-year-old Tbilisi native will compete in his first semi-final since winning the 2019 Hamburg European Open.

“It is unbelievable. He is one of the greatest of all time,” Basilashvili said during his post-match on-court interview. “To just play him means so much to me. I am really happy that he came back and is playing again. To win against him is a dream come true for me. He was always my idol and I am sure he is to many tennis players and fans. He is an unbelievable player, so I am extremely happy.” 

Federer not at 100 per cent

Federer admitted that he is not at 100 per cent yet. “I can feel it, I can see it. I’m still building up. This is a stepping stone. I’m actually happy how I felt on court overall. I felt better against Dan physically, naturally.

“I honestly expected to feel this way. There’s a muscle pain at my shoulder. A little stiff in the morning. Overall, the body is fine. I’m happy.”

Federer said that he will decide in the next 24 hours whether he will compete in the upcoming Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next week.

Basilashvili will next take on Taylor Fritz. The 21-year-old US-American battled past No. 4 seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 after two hours and five minutes.

Bautista Agut downs Thiem

Later in the evening, No. 5 seed and 2019 champion Roberto Bautista Agut from Spain knocked out top seed Dominic Thiem of Austria 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 24 minutes.

“It was a very tough fight. Dominic is a very good player,” Bautista Agut said in an on-court interview. “He gives 120 per cent. I tried to give more than 120 today. I had to play very good to beat him and it was one of the greatest players I had in front of me today.”

Bautista Agut will next take on Andrey Rublev from Russia. The No. 3 seed advanced to the semi-finals without playing a match. After a first-round bye, Rublev benefited from two walkovers, as French veteran Richard Gasquet and Marton Fucsovics of Hungary were forced to pulled out from the respective matches due to injury.