Bautista Agut battles back to send Djokovic crashing out
Novak Djokovic's unbeaten run at the Qatar Open is over after the world number one was beaten 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 by Roberto Bautista Agut in Friday's semi-final.
Djokovic had been forced to come from a set down to beat Marton Fucsovics and Nikoloz Basilashvili to earn his previous two victories in Doha, but on this occasion it was Bautista Agut's turn to fight back from behind.
Everything looked to be going to plan for Djokovic when he took the opening set in less than 40 minutes, however his opponent grew in confidence and went on to secure a first win over the Serbian since 2016.
Bautista Agut's victory ends Djokovic's 13-game winning streak in Qatar and denies him a third title at the ATP 250 event.
Djokovic's first-set problems from earlier in the week were quickly forgotten as he raced into a 3-0 lead, the top seed breaking at the first attempt as a Bautista Agut backhand drifted wide.On serve there was little the Spaniard could do to unsettle his opponent, Bautista Agut only managing to take six points off Djokovic as the Serbian sealed the set with ease.
The second began as an even affair with a string of impressive baseline rallies that Djokovic initially dominated, his athleticism and power forcing more errors from his opponent.
A wide forehand midway through the seventh game gave Djokovic an opening and he duly broke through to love as Bautista Agut found the net with a weak backhand.
Things quickly turned in Bautista Agut's favour, though, as his punishing groundstrokes penetrated Djokovic's previously solid defence.
Having seen his advantage disappear immediately, Djokovic took his frustration out on his racket, the top seed forced to clean up the mess with a towel before play could continue.
A new piece of equipment failed to bring the revival Djokovic had been hoping for, although he did save two set points in a nine-minute service game to force a tie-break.
It could not halt Bautista Agut, however, and after edging the breaker, he broke his rival in the opening game of the decider - an effort that proved crucial as he held firm to record only his second win over the US Open champion.