Doha Open: Nikoloz Basilashvili ends title drought

Nikoloz Basilashvili won the 2021 Doha Open on Saturday, defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(5), 6-2 in an hour and 28 minutes. This is Basilashvili’s fourth title in six finals and his first title in an ATP 250 tournament.

Heavily breezy conditions dominated the start of the match. Neither player, however, let the breeze affect their game – especially their serve. Both players didn’t lose more than a couple of points per game and the first game to go to deuce was the fifth game of the first set, on the Spaniard’s serve. However, he did well to extricate himself and keep himself ahead on the scoreboard. As it would turn out, neither Basilashvili nor Bautista Agut faced a break point in the opening set. In the tie-break that followed, mini-breaks were the norm before the Georgian arrested the bleeding by taking the tie-break on his second set point.

At the start of the second set, Basilashvili’s serve came under pressure in the opening game but the former world no. 16 didn’t lose his composure as he went up 1-0. As in the first set, serve was the key in the first five games of the second set. Things came to a head in the sixth game when Basilashvili created – and converted – the first break points of the match. As the set progressed, Basilashvili upped the aggression in his game to put himself closer and closer to the title. His method proved to be decisive, as, in the eighth game, Bautista Agut’s intention to go for broke while down two championship points brought out an error and consequentially, the win for his opponent.

Doha Open: Nikoloz Basilashvili proves to be too good

Basilashvili’s assertive game-plan proved to be the biggest difference between the Spaniard and him. The 29-year-old positioned himself closer to the baseline to take the ball early and directed his shots on all parts of the court to take away the rhythm from Bautista Agut instead of merely engaging in side-to-side exchanges.

For Nikoloz Basilashvili, the Doha Open title comes almost a year-and-a-half after his last title, at the 2019 Hamburg Open. The Georgian also ended the run of four straight first-round losses in his last four tournaments this season.