Date: 11 March 2021
Tournament: Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2021
Venue: Doha, Qatar
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $787,930
Match timing: Approx. 6 pm local time, 8.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Roger Federer vs Nikoloz Basilashvili preview
Roger Federer marked his return to the tour at the 2021 Qatar ExxonMobil Open with a hard-fought victory over Dan Evans on Wednesday. Federer will now go up against Nikoloz Basilashvili in Thursday's quarterfinals.
Roger Federer started his comeback match in the strongest way possible, racking up mind-boggling numbers on his first serve. But Evans refused to yield, holding firm on his own delivery to take the set to a tiebreaker.
Federer then went 2-4 down, but managed to claw his way back. The Swiss saved a set point at 5-6 before eventually clinching the breaker 10-8 with a crisp crosscourt backhand pass that sent the crowds into raptures.
But Federer’s level dipped in the second set, with his first-serve numbers falling considerably. The 20-time Major champion started showing signs of rust too, shanking his returns off both wings.
Evans, on his part, matched Federer from the baseline and surprisingly outdid the Swiss at the net. The Brit took the second set 6-3, but Federer began the decider with a spring in his step.
As the set progressed the Swiss regained his touch at the net, unfurling some inch-perfect volleys on the big points. At 5-4 up Federer squandered a match-point on the Evans serve, but at 5-6 he earned two more, this time clinching the win with his signature backhand down-the-line.
Nikoloz Basilashvili, on the other hand, beat Malek Jaziri 6-2, 6-2 in his second-round match on Wednesday. The Georgian had lost five consecutive matches coming into Doha, but he snapped the streak by beating John Millman in the first round.
Roger Federer vs Nikoloz Basilashvili head-to-head
Roger Federer leads Nikoloz Basilashvili 1-0 in the head-to-head. The two played each other at the 2016 Australian Open, with Federer winning 6-2, 6-1, 6-2.
Roger Federer vs Nikoloz Basilashvili prediction
Roger Federer was left fatigued by his 144-minute long battle against Dan Evans, and it remains to be seen if his body recovers before his quarterfinal on Thursday. Moreover, Nikoloz Basilashvili would have made a note of Federer's shortcomings on Wednesday; inviting the out-of-touch 39-year-old to the net could well reap dividends for Basilashvili.
Federer will also have to be wary of the Georgian's powerful drives off both wings. Basilashvili's fast-paced groundstrokes are likely to be a bigger test for Federer’s defense than Evans’ slices.
That said, Federer's serve might be the biggest difference-maker in the match on Thursday. If the Swiss superstar is hitting his spots with his favorite shot, he will likely be able to register his second win on the trot.
Prediction: Roger Federer to win in three sets.