For the second match running, world number one, Novak Djokovic had to dig deep to stay alive, rallying from a set down to overcome a stern challenge from Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili and reach the semifinals of the Qatar Open in Doha on Thursday.
The Serb, who was made to sweat by Marton Fucsovics in the second round on Wednesday, lost an opening set yet again, before coming back to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, extending his winning streak to 13 in the Arabian Peninsula.
“I thought Basilashvili was playing terrific from the beginning. I expected him to,” said Djokovic on court of the Georgian, who won his first two ATP Tour titles in 2018, both at ATP 500 events. “I knew that he’s playing probably the tennis of his life in the past 10 months, and he’s definitely one of the greatest hitters in the game.
Seeking a third straight title at the event, Djokovic will play Spain’s Roberto Bautista-Agut in the semifinals on Friday.
Bautista-Agut, ranked 24th in the world, put up a rock solid performance to defeat 3-time Grand Slam champion and 2008 finalist here, Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4. The 30-year-old Spaniard will certainly have his work cut out for him against Djokovic in the semis, having won just one of eight previous encounters against the Serb.
Elsewhere, Thomas Berdych defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2, 6-4 and will play either Dusan Lajovic or Italy’s Marco Cecchinato for a place in the final.