Bautista Agut comes through Berdych battle to clinch Qatar title
Roberto Bautista Agut capped off a superb start to 2019 with his ninth career ATP title as he defeated Tomas Berdych in the final of the Qatar Open.
A day after stunning world number one Novak Djokovic in three sets in the semi-finals, the Spaniard was forced to go the distance again to defeat Berdych.
Despite a blip in the second set, Bautista Agut found form in the decider to claim a 6-4 3-6 6-3 success and win a title in January for a second successive year.
Bautista Agut, having won the Auckland Open in 2018, will hope this success leads to greater fortune at the upcoming Australian Open than he enjoyed last year, when he tumbled out in the first round.
He only needed a sole break of serve in the opening set, which came in the seventh game thanks to a fine combination of forehands.
Berdych did manage to save three break points to force Bautista Agut to serve it out, but he did so with no problems before his Czech opponent hit back in excellent fashion.
A scorching backhand followed by a volley winner gave Berdych a break for a 3-1 lead and he wrapped up the set courtesy of a blistering angled forehand.
However, as he had done in the first set, Bautista Agut dictated matters in the third and surged into a 4-1 lead, with Berdych forced to save three break points to avoid going 5-1 down.
An extremely unfortunate net cord denied Berdych a break back and Bautista Agut made the most of that let-off, serving out the match to love to ensure he will head to Melbourne with confidence.