Nikoloz Basilashvili is through to the semi-finals at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha after recovering from a set down to defeat the three-time champion, Roger Federer.
The Swiss, who recorded his first victory in 405 days against Dan Evans yesterday, was halted by a combination of heavy legs and hard-hitting from the world number forty-two. And despite holding a match point at 5-4 in the third, he went down 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Basilashvili will play Taylor Fritz in tomorrow's semi-final after he also recovered from a set down to defeat Denis Shapovalov 7-5 in the third.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and, like the first match, elected to serve. However, this time around, the saving of a breakpoint was required to hold for 1-0.
A multi deuce game gave Federer some looks on the return, but Basilashvili showed how big he could hit the ball to hold for 1-1.
Federer then held to thirty, and Basilashvili looked to be well on the way to doing the same at 30-0, but Federer creamed some forehands to make deuce.
A double fault from the Georgian gave Roger a breakpoint, and he sealed it, firing a backhand winner down the line to wrongfoot his opponent to lead 3-1.
Some groundstroke mishits allowed Basilashvili a chance to recover the beak, but Federer steadied the ship to consolidate for 4-1.
A further hold then put Federer up 5-2, and he was soon serving for the set at 5-3. No wobbles, and he served it out with an ace to take it 6-3 in 37 minutes.
Into set two, and after showing signs of being able to do some damage on the return, Basilashvili broke through to establish a 2-0 lead.
Federer quickly fashioned three break-back points, but Basilashvili reeled off five points in a row to hold for 3-0.
Game four got Roger on the board, and 0-30 provided him with another window of opportunity to break back, but the set tailed off from there. Basilashvili held for 4-1 and took the next two games to level at one set all.
The Swiss kicked off set three with a hold to love before Basilashvili responded in kind. Federer then produced two quality serves at 30-30 to hold for 2-1.
By the set's midpoint, Basilashvili had begun to assert himself as the more dominant player, and Federer had to fight off three break points in game seven after being pegged back from 40-15 up.
The pair then exchanged comfortable holds as Federer moved into a 5-4 lead. A decision to challenge midpoint lost Baslashvili the point at 30-15 in the next game, and a mistimed slice caught him out as Federer set up a match point. Some big hitting saved it, and Basilashvili held for 5-5.
Federer soon found himself in the jaws of defeat from the cusp of victory as he dropped serve to fall 6-5 behind. Basilashvili showed no sign of nerves, holding to 30 to book his spot in the semi-finals.
|Nikoloz Basilashvili||Roger Federer|
|1st Serve||61% (56/92)||69% (66/96)|
|1st Serve Points Won||77% (43/56)||67% (44/66)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||50% (18/36)||50% (15/30)|
|Break Points Saved||80% (4/5)||70% (7/10)|
|Service Games Played||14||14|
|1st Serve Return Points Won||33% (22/66)||23% (13/56)|
|2nd Serve Return Points Won||50% (15/30)||50% (18/36)|
|Break Points Converted||30% (3/10)||20% (1/5)|
|Return Games Played||14||14|
|Service Points Won||66% (61/92)||61% (59/96)|
|Return Points Won||39% (37/96)||34% (31/92)|
|Total Points Won||52% (98/188)||48% (90/188)|
Thoughts on the Match
I honestly expected to feel this way. You know, the whole shoulder is really, I feel the muscle pain around that. I didn’t expect it to be honest here in the shoulder because I have been serving the whole time, but that comes I think with the pressure and just, you know, in matches you just go that extra percent, 5%?
I don’t know what it is. But when you’ve got your back against the wall, you’ve got to crank it up. I tried to do that time and time again against Dan. But, you know, once everything warms up – actually I felt overall today it was a more level performance, whereas yesterday I felt really up and down. But the rallies were also played totally different, as I explained before, against Basilashvili. He pushed me much more into the forehand corner whereas Dan was very much running around with his slice, keeping the ball low, and I think that was a challenge.
Overall the body is actually fine. I’m happy. You know, it could be much worse. I mean, there was always, you know, a little bit within me that thought, you know, how am I going to feel after a brutal first-round match? That’s what I was thinking about going into the tournament, and how would I feel the second round? I was always worried that maybe I couldn’t play it for whatever reason. I felt fine. You know, little stiff in the morning, but that’s totally normal I think. Federer speaking after his quarter final loss
Another good match for Federer to get under his belt here, and although it wasn't the ideal result, I thought he played well throughout. Put it this way; if you hold a match point, it's difficult to say you played too badly. 🙂
There were a few concerns towards the end of the second set when he looked a bit sluggish with the footwork, but to me, he just looked fatigued and not quite prepared to really push the envelope on the defence out of the corners. This is understandable; it's an ATP 250 and your second match back after a year out, the first of which was a tough three-setter.
I honestly think had he been feeling something; then he'd do the unthinkable, the most un-Federer thing possible and retire mid-match given how much he's put into rehab. Or, at the very least, tank it as Isner did in the Miami Final in 2019 for the last few games. But he stayed the course, held a match point and was competitive till the very last moment.
So could Doha have gone much better? Not really, I don't think, six sets, two fully completed matches, and he leaves knowing entirely where his game is at. He also didn't serve a double fault in either match, so that appears still to be the money shot.
The next stop for Federer is a training block after he revealed he would be skipping Dubai.
What did you guys think of the match against Basilashvili? Thoughts on the Qatar Open as a whole? Let me know in the comments.