Fixture: Roberto Bautista Agut vs Nikoloz Basilashvili
Date: 13 March 2021
Tournament: Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2021
Venue: Doha, Qatar
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $787,930
Match timing: 6 pm local time, 8.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Nikoloz Basilashvili preview
World No. 12 Roberto Bautista Agut will be looking to end a title drought of two years when he takes on surprise package Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Doha final on Saturday.
Bautista Agut has not had the best of times on tour lately, having suffered first-round losses to Radu Albot and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at the Australian Open and the Rotterdam Open respectively. But the Spaniard has seemingly turned a new leaf at the Qatar Open, defeating the likes of Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev enroute to the final.
Bautista Agut has won this event before, having beaten Tomas Berdych in the final of the 2019 edition. Needless to say, he will be keen to add a second trophy to his collection on Saturday.
Nikoloz Basilashvili, meanwhile, has had quite a turnaround of fortunes in Doha. The World No. 42 had been in a major slump before entering the event, having lost 15 of his last 22 matches on tour. But Basilashvili rediscovered his touch and managed to beat the returning Roger Federer in three sets to reach the last four.
The Georgian then defeated USA's Taylor Fritz in straight sets to advance to the final. But while Basilashvili has been a force to reckon with on the court this week, he has also been embroiled in a huge off-court controversy since last year.
The 29-year-old was charged and arrested for domestic violence in May 2020, the court proceedings for which are still ongoing.
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Nikoloz Basilashvili head-to-head
Roberto Bautista Agut leads Nikoloz Basilashvili by a margin of 2-0 in the head-to-head. Both of Bautista Agut's wins over the Georgian have come on clay (2017 Monte Carlo Masters and 2020 Hamburg Open).
The championship match in Doha will be the duo's first tour meeting on a hardcourt.
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Nikoloz Basilashvili prediction
Roberto Bautista Agut has produced some strong results this week with a more aggressive game, consistently asserting his position on the court with deep and accurate groundstrokes. The Spaniard has also been impressive on his return; he completely took apart Rublev's second serve on Friday, winning a whopping 94% of the points on that shot.
That said, Nikoloz Basilashvili has the tools to counter Bautista Agut's return with interest. The Georgian likes to drive through his strokes off both wings without much spin, constantly looking for pace and power to hit through his opponents.
But while this low-margin tactic has paid off for him in his last three matches, it's no guarantee of success against someone like Bautista Agut. The Spaniard has been very composed throughout this week, and he can be expected to get just enough balls back in play to elicit errors from Basilashvili.
Prediction: Roberto Bautista Agut to win in straight sets.